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THE 
MIRROR OF PERFECTION 

to wit 

The Blessed Francis of Assisi 
By "BROTHER LSO OF ASSISI 

IVith a Preface by FATHER CUTHBERT, O.S.F.C. 




BURNS & GATES LTD 

28 Orchard Street, London, W. 




PREFACE 

THE MIRROR OF PERFEC 
TION of the Blessed Francis be 
longs properly to polemical litera 
ture; it is an argument taken from 
the acts and words of St. Francis in 
favour of what a party within the Franciscan 
Order considered to be the true Franciscan life. 
As is well known, there arose in the very early 
days of the Franciscan Order a conflict of 
opinion as to whether the Friars should abide 
in their primitive simplicity and unconven 
tional poverty or, in view of new circumstances, 
approximate more closely to the institutions of 
other religious orders. That was really the 
essential question at issue. 

With the growth of the Order and the ex 
tension of its activities, some development or 
change of organisation was needed. It was 
manifest to the body of the Friars that the 
simple arrangements and idyllic unconven- 
tionality of the first days must give place to a 
more formal organisation, if the vast number of 
Friars shortly to be scattered throughout 
Europe were not to degenerate into an un 
disciplined crowd. Under any circumstances 
vii. 



there would have been a peculiar difficulty in 
adapting the Franciscan life to the practical 
needs of a widespread organisation, because of 
the singular idealism in which the Order had 
its spiritual origin. Amongst religious orders 
the Franciscan was unique, because the verj 
reason of its existence was to open the way foi 
the life of perfect poverty and unworldly sim 
plicity for which so many religious souls in thu 
Middle Ages were athirst. How to preserve thi; 
exalted idealism, whilst recognising the practical 
needs of a prosaic world in which the Friar 
must live and work, was the great problen 
which faced the Order in the latter days of St 
Francis. The difficulty was increased by ai 
active party amongst the Friars who sought t 
remould the Order upon conventional lines, wit 
but little regard to the primitive Francisca 
spirit and idealism. The contention whic 
thus began in the days of St. Francis, becam 
more acute after his death; it lasted throughou 
the thirteenth century and eventually resulte 
in the division of the Order into various "fami 
lies" with separate jurisdictions. 

The Mirror of Perfection originated in th 

controversy and voices the opposition towan 

a line of development which many of the Fria: 

viii. 



deemed inconsistent with the original purpose 
ind spirit of the Franciscan Order. It was 
probably composed about the end of the 
thirteenth century or at the beginning of the 
fourteenth.* To speak of it as a "Legend" (in 
he mediaeval sense of the word) would be in- 
:orrect : it really is a "memorial" compiled from 
earlier documents and designed to set forth what 
he compiler and those of like mind with him 
:onsidered the true life of a Friar Minor accord- 
ng to the intentions of St. Francis. Such 
memorials" were not uncommon about the 
jnd of the thirteenth century. Their purpose 
ivas not merely to protest against the "party of 
elaxation," but also to foster and strengthen 
:he party of "strict observance." The Fioretti^ 
n its original Latin text, belongs to this category. 
To understand the workmanship of these 
memorials," we must remember that amongst 
he Friars who adhered to the primitive ideal 

* When M. Paul Sabatier edited, in 1898, the Latin text 
vhich Dr. Sebastian Evans has here so delightfully trans- 
ated, he announced it as "the most ancient legend" of St. 

rancis, "completed in 1227." The learned editor was led 
nto this mistake by a copyist s error, of the sort very frequent 
n mediaeval manuscripts. The Mazarine MS. which M. 

abatier edited bears the date MCCXXVIII. It is now 
ertain that the mediaeval copyist should have written 

wcccxxvm. 

ix. 



the writings of the companions of St. Francis 
and their disciples were fondly treasured; and 
so, too, were the oral traditions handed down 
from generation to generation. These writings 
and traditions were a sort of charter of the 
spiritual freedom of the observants. It was from 
these early writings and traditions that the 
memorialisls drew their material. In the case 
of the Mirror of Perfeftion^ there can be little 
doubt that the compiler had in his hands a copy 
of the writings of Brother Leo, the belovec 
disciple of St. Francis, and of those companions 
of the saint, who, as we know, at the instance oJ 
the Minister-General Crescentius, committee 
to writing their remembrances of the acts anc 
words of St. Francis. 

From the writings of these companions 
Thomas of Celano wrote his Legenda Secunda 
Now, in the Mirror of Perfection there are 8( 
passages which correspond almost identicall; 
with the Legenda Secunda; but a critical com 
parison between the two texts leaves hardl; 
any doubt that in the Mirror of Perfedion w 
have, if not the original text itself of the writ 
ings of the companions, at least a more faithfu 
version than that of Celano. Other passages 
10 in number are almost certainly take. 
x. 



lirecT: from the independent writings of Brother 
,eo, since they are authenticated by Ubertino 
!a Casale who had in his hands the rotuli of 
Brother Leo. As to the remainder of the Mirror 
fPerfedion^ it is not improbable that here, too, 
he compiler drew upon early documents pre- 
erved amongst the observant Friars. 

We have, then, in this book a genuine wit- 
less to the life and mind of St. Francis; and yet 

reading it one must remember its pole- 
nical purpose and make allowance for the 
Dolemical temperament. Even the companions 
>f St. Francis, when they wrote, were not free 
rom the polemical temper. They wrote with 
n eye to certain abuses or departures from the 
Drimitive ideal, which they were out to combat. 
Consequently, to know "the real St. Francis" 
we have need to supplement our knowledge 
rom other sources, and we must put ourselves 
nto a calmer atmosphere of thought than that 

the writers of this book, before we draw 
>ur ultimate conclusions. 

But there is one value attaching to the 
Mirror of Perfection and its kindred "me- 
norials" which we owe to the very polemical 
mrpose and temper in which they were 
written and compiled. They bear witness 
xi. 



the spiritual fervour with which a large body 
of the Franciscans cherished the original spirit 
and idealism of their Order. We have heard a w 
great deal of "the early decline" of the Francis 
cans from their primitive ideals: we hear less 
from modern historians of the long continu 
ance of the original idealism amongst a large 
section of the Friars, from which sprang that 
succession of reforms which is the true story of 
"The Lady Poverty" throughout the first 
three centuries of the Franciscan history. 

The Mirror of Perfettwn^ like the Fiorett^ 
finds its true place in the history of the enduring 
endeavour within the Franciscan Order to 
maintain the primitive spirit and idealism of 
St. Francis. As a witness to that endeavour 
it will be cherished by all who see in religion 
a constant Struggle of the spirit against thei 
seductive "prudence of the flesh." 

Fr. CUTHBERT, O.S.F.C. 



Xll. 



Saint Francis or Assist 



HERE BEGINNETH THE MIRROR 
OF PERFECTION OF THE STATE 
OF A BROTHER MINOR, TO WIT, 
OF THE BLESSED FRANCIS. 



L How the Blessed THE Blessed Fran- 
Francis made answer unto c j s mac ] e three Rules, 
the ministers that would to wit the one that 
not be bound to the ol> p Innocent did 

servance of the Rule that r r i 

confirm unto him 
he made* . . ^ 

without a Bull; 

afterward he made another, briefer, and this 
was lost ; afterward the one that Pope 
Honorius did confirm with a Bull, out of 
the which Rule were many things taken 
out by the ministers against the will of 
the Blessed Francis. But after the second 
Rule that the Blessed Francis made was 
lost, he went up into a certain mountain with 
brother Leo of Assisi and brother Bonyzo 
of Bologna that he might make another Rule 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

the which by Christ s teaching he made be 
written. But the more part of the ministers 
assembling them together unto brother Elias 
that was vicar of the Blessed Francis said 
unto him : " We have heard that this brother 
Francis maketh a new Rule, but we be feared 
lest he should make it too harsh, in such sort 
that we cannot observe it. Wherefore we 
will that thou go unto him and tell him that 
we will not be bound unto that Rule. Let 
him make it for himself and not for us." 

Unto whom brother Elias made answer that 
he would not go without them, whereupon 
they all of them did go together. And when 
brother Elias was nigh the place where the 
Blessed Francis was standing, brother Elias 
called unto him. Who making answer and 
beholding the ministers aforesaid, the Blessed 
Francis said : " What would these brethren ? " 
And saith brother Elias : " They be ministers 
that have heard how thou makest a new Rule, 
and being afeard lest thou make it too harsh, do 
say and protest that they will not be bound 
thereunto. Make it for thyself and not for 
them." Thereupon the Blessed Francis did 
turn his face towards Heaven, and spake unto 
Christ on this wise : " Lord, said I not well 
when I told Thee they would not believe 
me ? " Then all did hear the voice of Christ 
that made answer in the air : " Francis, 

2 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

nought is there of thine own in the Rule, but 
whatsoever is therein is all Mine own, and 
My will it is that thus shall the Rule be 
observed to the letter, to the letter, to the 
letter, without gloss, without gloss, without 
gloss ! " He added moreover : " How much 
the weakness of men can do I know, and what 
right good will have I to help them. Let 
them therefore that are unwilling to keep it 
depart from out the Order ! " Then the 
Blessed Francis turned him towards those 
brethren and said unto them : " Ye have 
heard ! Ye have heard ! Will ye that I should 
make you again be spoken unto ? " Then 
the ministers, rebuking themselves, went away 
confounded and adread. 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

THE SECOND PART, OF THE 
PERFECTION OF POVERTY, 



II. And first, in what BROTHER RlCHER 
wise the Blessed Francis o f the March, noble 
declared the will and in- o f }i nea ge and noble 
tention which he had from , hig ho l iness 
the beginning to the end ^ he El ^ td 

as regards the observance i; . .. . . 
of poverty. Francis did love with 

great attection, on 

a certain day visited the Blessed Francis in 
the Bishop s palace of Assisi, and among other 
things whereof he spake with him as concern 
ing the state of the Religion and the observance 
of the Rule, he made question specially of this: 
<c Tell me, Father, the intention that thou 
hadst from the beginning when thou didst 
begin to have brethren, and the intention that 
thou now hast and lookest to have even unto 
the day of thy death, so as that I may be able 
to bear witness to thy intention and to thy 
first will and thy last ; to wit, whether we 
clergy-brethren that have so many books can 
in truth have them, albeit we say that they be 
the books of the Religion ? " The Blessd 
Francis made answer unto him : " Brother, I 
say unto thee that this was and is my first 
intention and my last will, if only the brethren 



Saint Francis of Assist 

would have believed me, that no brother ought 
to have anything save his habit as our Rule 
alloweth, with girdle and hosen." 

But and if any brother may be minded to 
say : " Why, then, did not the Blessed Francis 
in his own time make his Rule and the poverty 
thereby enjoined to be so strictly observed by 
the brethren as he said unto brother Richer, nor 
commanded it thus to be observed ? " we that 
were with him make answer unto this accord 
ing as we have heard from his own mouth, 
inasmuch as he himself said these and many 
other things to the brethren, and even made 
many things be written in the Rule, the 
which, with earnest prayer and meditation, he 
besought of the Lord as being useful to the 
Religion, affirming the same to be altogether 
according to the will of God ; natheless, after 
that he showed them unto the brethren, they 
seemed unto them heavy and not to be borne, 
seeing that they knew not what things should 
come to pass in the Religion after his death. 
And for that he was sore afeared of scandal, 
both as concerning himself as well as the 
brethren, he was not minded to contend with 
them, but did unwillingly condescend unto 
their wishes, and did excuse himself thereof 
before the Lord. 

But that the word which the Lord did put 
into his mouth for the benefit of the brethren 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

might not return unto Him empty, he willed 
to fulfil the same in himself, that he might 
thereby earn his wages of the Lord, and at 
the end his spirit did herein find rest and 
comfort. 



IIL How he made Now, on a time, 
answer to a minister that when the Blessed 
would fain have books by Francis had come 
his licence, and how the back from the ts 
ministers without his fe , cer _ 

knowledge made the / . . ,. , 

clause concerning the pro- tain minister did 
hibition of the Gospel be nold talk wlth him 
removed from the Rule. as concerning the 

clause of poverty, 

wishing to know his will and understanding 
thereupon, and the more for that a certain 
clause was at that time written in the Rule as 
concerning the prohibitions of the Holy Gospel, 
to wit : "Take nothing for your journey, neither 
staves nor scrip, neither bread, neither money, 
neither have two coats apiece." And the 
Blessed Francis made answer : " I understand 
it thus, that the brethren ought to have nothing 
save their garments with a cord and hosen as 
the Rule saith, and if so be they are com 
pelled by necessity, they may wear shoon." 

And the minister said unto him : " What 
shall I do, that have so many books as that 
6 



Saint Francis of Assist 

they be worth more than forty pound ? " But 
this he said for that he was minded to have 
them with a clear conscience, inasmuch as it 
went against his conscience to have so many 
books knowing how straitly the Blessed 
Francis did understand the clause of poverty. 
And the Blessed Francis saith unto him : " I 
will not, nor I ought not, nor 1 cannot go 
against my conscience and the fulfilment of 
the Holy Scripture that we have professed." 
And when he heard this the minister was 
sorrowful. But the Blessed Francis seeing 
him thus troubled, with much fervency of 
spirit spake unto him in the person of all the 
brethren : " Ye would fain appear before men 
as brethren Minor and be called observants 
of the Holy Gospel, but in your works would 
ye fain have treasure-chests ! " 

Natheless, albeit the ministers knew that 
according to the Rule, the brethren were 
held to the observance of the Holy Gospel, 
yet nevertheless did they make be removed 
from the Rule that clause : " Take nothing 
for your journey," and the rest, believing that 
thereby they should not be held to observe the 
fulfilment of the Gospel. Wherefore, when 
the Blessed Francis by the Holy Spirit had 
knowledge thereof, he spake in the presence 
of certain of the brethren, saying : " The 
brethren-ministers think to deceive the Lord 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

and me, yea, albeit they know that all the 
brethren be bound to observe the fulfilment 
of the Holy Gospel. It is my will that it be 
written both at the beginning and at the end 
of the Rule that the brethren are bound firmly 
to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord 
Jesus Christ ; and that the brethren may be 
evermore without excuse from such time as I 
have announced unto them and do announce 
those things that for my salvation and theirs 
the Lord hath put into my mouth, it is my 
will that they do show forth those things in 
their works before God, and by His help do 
observe them for ever." Hence was it that he 
himself did observe all the Holy Gospel to the 
letter from the very outset what time he began 
to have brethren even unto the day of his 
death. 



IV. Of the novice that AT another time, 
would fain have a psalter moreover, a cer- 
by his licence. tain brother ^ a 

novice that knew how to read a psalter, albeit 
not very well, did nevertheless obtain from the 
Minister-General a licence to have one ; yet, 
for that he heard how the Blessed Francis was 
minded that his brethren should not be desirous 
of knowledge and books, he was not content to 
have it without the leave of the Blessed Francis. 
8 



Saint Francis of Assist 

What time, therefore, the Blessed Francis 
was come to the place where that novice was, 
the novice said : " Father, a great solace would 
it be to me to have a psalter, but albeit the 
General hath allowed it unto me, I would fain 
have it with thy knowledge and approval." 
Unto whom the Blessed Francis made answer : 
"Charles the Emperor, Roland and Oliver, 
and all the paladins and puissant men that 
were mighty in war, pursuing the paynims 
with sore sweat and travail even to the 
death, did achieve a victory over them worthy 
of all remembrance, and at the last did them 
selves die in battle, holy martyrs for the faith 
of Christ j yet now be there many that would 
fain receive honour and the praise of men for 
only telling the tale of the deeds they did. In 
like manner, even amongst ourselves many 
there be that are fain to receive praise and 
honour only by rehearsing and preaching the 
works that the saints did themselves achieve ; " 
as who should say : " Pay not heed unto 
books and knowledge, but unto godly works, 
for knowledge puffeth up but charity edifieth." 
But after some days, when the Blessed Francis 
was sitting at the fire, the same novice did 
again speak to him about the psalter. And 
the Blessed Francis saith unto him : " After 
that thou shalt have had the psalter, thou wilt 
be covetous and desire to have a breviary also. 
9 



Saint Francis of Assist 

And after that thou hast gotten a breviary, 
thou wilt sit in a chair like a great prelate and 
wilt say unto thy brother, Fetch me the 
breviary ! " 

And while he spake thus the Blessed Francis 
with great fervency of spirit did take of the 
ashes and set upon his own head, and drawing 
his hand in a compass over his head as he that 
should wash his head, said : " I a breviary ! I a 
breviary ! " And thus many times did he repeat 
the same, drawing his hand over his head. 
And that brother was amazed and ashamed. 
Afterwards the Blessed Francis said unto 
him : " Brother, I in likewise have been 
tempted to have books, but whilst I still knew 
not the will of God therein, I took a book 
wherein were written the Lord s Gospels, and 
I prayed unto the Lord that in the first open 
ing of the book, He would show me of this 
matter. And when I had made an end of 
praying, on the first opening of the book I 
lighted on that Word of the Holy Gospel : 
Unto you it is given to know the mysteries 
of the Kingdom of God, but unto others in 
parables. " And he saith : " So many be 
there that do willingly raise them up unto 
knowledge, that blessed shall he be that shall 
make him barren for the love of our Lord 
God." 

But after many months had gone by, when 
10 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

the Blessed Francis was at the place of S. 
Mary of the Little Portion nigh the cell 
beyond the house in the street, the foresaid 
brother did again speak to him about the 
psalter. To whom the Blessed Francis said : 
" Go and do herein as thy minister shall tell 
thee." And when he heard this, the brother 
began to return by the way that he had come. 
But the Blessed Francis bided in the way, 
and began to think upon that which he had 
said to the brother, and straightway called out 
after him saying : " Wait for me, brother, 
wait ! " And he went up to him, and saith 
unto him : " Turn back with me, brother, 
and show me the place where I said unto thee 
that thou shouldst do as thy minister should 
tell thee in the matter of the psalter." When 
therefore they had come as far as the place, 
the Blessed Francis bent his knee before that 
brother and said : " Mine is the fault, brother, 
mine is the fault ! for whosoever will be 
brother Minor ought to have nothing save 
his habit as the Rule alloweth him and a cord 
and hosen, and shoon for them that are com 
pelled of manifest necessity." Hence it came 
to pass that when sundry of the brethren 
came to him to take counsel on matters of 
this kind, it was on this wise that he made 
answer unto them. And therefore did he 
say ofttimes : " As much knowledge hath a 
ii 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

man as he doth work, and a Religious only 
preacheth well insomuch as he worketh well, 
for the doer is known by his fruits." 



V. Of maintaining THE most Blessed 
poverty in books, beds, Father taught the 
buildings and appliances. brethren as for 

books, to look to their inwardness, not to 
their price ; to the edification to be found 
therein, not to their outward adornments. He 
willed that such as they had should be few and 
in common, and those such as were suitable to 
the necessities of the brethren. In beds and 
beddings a plentiful poverty did so abound that" 
he which had a tattered rag over his straw did 
hold the same for a feather-bed. 

He taught his brethren, moreover, to make 
their dwellings after a sorry sort, and would 
that their cabins should be of wood, not stone, 
and these constructed and builded after a mean 
pattern ; and not only did he hate arrogance 
in their houses, but he did exceedingly abhor 
much or choice furnishing thereof. He had 
no liking for aught in tables or vessels that 
was of worldly seeming, and whereby remem 
brance of the world might be recalled ; so as 
that all things might point toward poverty as 
their end and intent, and all things chant 
songs of pilgrimage and exile. 

12 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

VI. How he made ail Now when he was 

the brethren go out of a passing through 

certain house that was said Bologna, he heard 

to belong to the brethren. that ^ house of ^ Q 

brethren there had been newly builded. Who 
straightway, as soon as he heard how that house 
was said to be the house of the brethren, turned 
back on his steps and went out of the city, and 
straitly commanded that all the brethren 
should depart thereout in haste and should in 
nowise thenceforward dwell therein. Where 
upon all the brethren went out in suchwise 
that not even the sick remained therein, but 
were turned out with the others, until such 
time as Ugolino, Lord Bishop of Ostia and 
Legate in Lombardy, did publicly declare the 
said house to be his own. And a brother that 
lay sick and was turned out of the house at 
that time beareth witness to these things and 
did write this. 



VIL How he was fain to WHEN the time or 

destroy a certain house the General Chapter 

that the folk of Assisi had drew nigh that was 

made at S. Mary of the hdd ey at 

Little Portion. g> Mt ,y J # the 

Little Portion, the folk of Assisi consider 
ing that the brethren day by day did multiply, 
and that all of them every year did there 
13 



Saint Francis of Assist 

assemble together, forasmuch as they had not 
but one small cell thatched with straw whereof 
the walls were of wattle and dab, did hold 
their council, and within a few days, in much 
haste and with the greatest devotion did make 
there a great house builded of stones and 
mortar, without the consent of the Blessed 
Francis and in his absence. And when the 
Blessed Francis returned from a certain pro 
vince and came thither to the Chapter, he 
marvelled greatly of the house that there was 
builded, and fearing lest by occasion of this 
house that other brothers in the places wherein 
they sojourned or might thereafter sojourn 
should in like fashion cause great houses to be 
made, and for that he willed this place should 
be the pattern and example of all other places 
of the Order, or ever the Chapter were ended, 
he went up on to the roof of the house and 
bade the brethren go up also, and along with 
the brethren themselves did begin to throw 
down to the ground the tiles wherewith the 
house was roofed, being minded to destroy the 
same even to the foundations. But certain 
soldiers of Assisi that were there to guard the 
place by reason of the number of burgesses 
that had come together to look on at the 
Chapter of the brethren, seeing how the 
Blessed Francis with the other brethren was 
minded to batter the house to pieces, straight- 
14 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

way went unto him and said to him : "Bro 
ther, this house belongeth to the Community 
of Assisi, and we be here on behalf of the 
Community. Wherefore we warn thee that 
thou destroy not this house which is ours." 
Upon hearing this, the Blessed Francis said 
unto them : " If so be, then, that it is yours, 
no will have I to touch it." And forthwith 
he and the other brethren came down there 
from. Wherefore from that time forward the 
people of the city of Assisi made a by-law that 
whosoever should be high-bailiff of the city 
should be bound to make it be repaired. And 
every year for a long time thereafter was this 
statute observed. 



VIIL How he chided his AT another time, 

vicar for that he caused be moreover, the vicar 

made there a little house o f tne Blessed Fran- 

for saying the Office, ds began to make 

build in the same place a small house 
wherein the brethren might take their rest 
and say their Hours, for on account of 
the multitude of brethren that came unto 
that place, the brethren had not where to 
say the Office. For all the brethren of 
the Order did come together in that place, 
for that none was received into the Order save 
onl there. And when the house was now 



Saint Francis of Assist 

already completed, the Blessed Francis re 
turned to that place, and as he was abiding 
in his cell he heard talking of labourers there, 
and calling his companion, he asked what the 
brethren were at work upon. To whom the 
companion related all things as they were. 
But straightway he made his vicar be called, 
and saith unto him: "Brother, this place is 
the pattern and example of the whole Reli 
gion, and I would therefore that the brethren 
of this place should be the first to suffer tribu 
lation and discomfort for the love of our Lord 
God, and that the other brethren which shall 
come hither shall carry back the good example 
of poverty to their own places ; whereas if 
these should have their comforts in full, those 
others also might take example of building in 
their own places, saying, c In this place of the 
Blessed Mary of the Little Portion which is 
the foremost place of the Order, are such and 
so great buildings made, wherefore may we 
also build the like in our own places. " 



IX, How the Blessed A CERTAIN brother, 
Francis would not stay in right spiritual and 
a cell curiously wrought, greatly familiar with 
or if it were said to be his the Blessed Francis 
own, ,. . , . 

did cause be made 

in the hermitage wherein he sojourned a 
16 



Saint Francis of Assist 

certain cell, a little distance away, wherein 
the Blessed Francis might stay and pray 
whensoever he should come thither. But 
when the Blessed Francis came to that place, 
the brother led him to the cell. To whom 
said the Blessed Francis: "Too fair is this 
cell ! " albeit it were only of wood, shapen 
with adze and hatchet. "If therefore, thou 
wouldst that I should abide there, let be 
made for it a covering within and without 
of wattles and branches of trees." For the 
sorrier seeming was house or cell, the more 
ij gladly did he sojourn therein. Which when 
the brother had done, the Blessed Francis 
I! abode there several days. But on a certain 
day, when he had gone out of that cell, a 
1 certain brother went to look thereat, and 
jj afterwards came to the place where the 
|j Blessed Francis was. And when the Blessed 
Francis saw him, he said unto him : " Whence 
comest thou, brother ? " And he saith, 
" From thy cell." And the Blessed Francis 
said unto him : " For that thou hast said it is 
my cell, henceforward another shall stay 
therein and not I." For we that were with 
him have often heard him saying that word : 
" Foxes have holes and the birds of the air- 
have nests, but the Son of Man hath not 
where to lay His head." And, again, he would 
say : " When Our Lord withdrew Him into 

17 B 



Saint Francis of Assist 

the wilderness and fasted forty days and forty 
nights, He had no cell nor house made there, 
but abode throughout on a stone of the 
mountains." Wherefore by His ensample 
would he never have house nor cell that 
should be called his own, nor none such would 
he never have made at all. If it were that 
at any time he had said to the brethren : 
" Go and make ready such or such a cell," yet 
was he never minded thereafter to abide in it 
on account of that word of the Holy Gospel : 
" Take no thought for your life, what ye 
shall eat ; neither for the body, what ye shall 
put on." For even about the time of his 
death he made be written in his will that all - 
the cells and houses of the brethren should be 
of stud and mud only, the better to maintain 
poverty and humility. 

X. Of the manner of ON a time when 
taking places in cities and h e was at Siena for 
building therein according the i n fi rm ity of his 
to the intention o the Doctor Bona- 

Blessed Francis. v entura, that had 

given the brethren land whereon a place 
was builded, said unto him : " Father, how 
seemeth it unto thee of this place ? " ^ And 
the Blessed Francis saith unto him : " Wouldst 
thou that I tell thee how the places of the 
18 



Saint Francis of Assist 

brethren ought to be builded ? " He made 
answer : " Yea, Father." And the Blessed 
Francis said : " When the brethren go to 
any city where they have no place, and find 
any man willing to give them so much land, 
as that they may build them a place and have 
therein a garden and all things necessary, 
they ought to consider first of all how much 
land will be enow for them, looking always 
to the poverty and the good ensample that in 
all things we are bound to show forth." 

But this he said, for that he was minded 
the brethren should in no wise, neither in 
houses, nor churches, nor gardens, nor in 
nought else whereof they had the use, trespass 
beyond the bounds of poverty, nor hold no 
places whatsoever by right of ownership, but 
should sojourn therein as pilgrims and 
strangers ; wherefore he would not that the 
brethren should be lodged together in the 
places in large numbers, for that it seemed to 
him a hard thing for poverty to be observed 
in a great multitude. And this was his 
intention from the beginning of his con 
version, even to the end, that poverty should 
in all things be throughly observed. 

"When, therefore, the brethren have con 
sidered the land necessary for the place, they 
ought to go to the Bishop of the city and say 
unto him : * Such an one is fain to give us so 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

much land for the love of God and for the 
salvation of his soul, to the end that we may 
build us a place therein, wherefore, first of 
all, we have recourse to you as father and lord 
of souls unto all the flock committed unto 
you, and of all our brethren that shall sojourn 
in this place, inasmuch as we desire to build 
therein with God s blessing and yours. " 

But this he said for that the harvest of 
souls which the brethren would fain garner, 
they do the better gather in through being at 
peace with the clergy, winning them over 
even as the people, rather than by scandalising 
them, albeit they might thereby win over the 
people. He saith, moreover : " The Lord 
hath called us unto the succour of His faith 
and of the clergy and prelates of the Holy 
Roman Church. And therefore are we 
bound, as far as possible, always to love them 
and honour and reverence them. For we be 
called brethren Minor, for that, as in name, so 
in ensample, we ought to be humble beyond 
other men of this world. And seeing that 
from the beginning of my conversion the 
Lord hath put His word into the mouth of 
the Bishop of Assisi, that he should give me 
counsel, and be of good comfort unto me in 
the service of Christ ; on this account, and on 
account of many other things excellent that 
I do pay regard unto in the Prelates, I am 
20 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

fain to love and venerate, not the Bishops 
alone, but the poorer clergy also, and to hold 
them for my lords. 

"Thereafter, when they have received a 
blessing from the Bishop, let them go and 
make a great trench be driven around the 
compass of the land they have received for 
building the place, and thereby let them set a 
good hedge for a wall, as a mark of holy 
poverty and humility. After that, let them 
make be builded poor houses of mud and stud, 
and sundry little cells, wherein at times the 
brethren may pray and work for greater 
decency and for the avoiding of sloth. And 
let them make build little churches, for they 
ought not to have great churches builded, 
neither for the sake of preaching to the people 
nor upon none other occasion, for the humility 
is the greater and the ensample the better 
when they go to other churches to preach. 
And if at any time prelates and clerics, either 
regular or secular, shall come unto their 
places, the sorry houses, the little cells, and 
small churches will preach to them, and more 
will they be edified by these things than they 
would be by words." Moreover, saith he, 
"Many a time do the brethren have great 
buildings made, breaking thereby our holy 
poverty, giving occasion of mischievous 
whispers, and setting a bad ensample unto 
21 



Saint Francis of Asslsi 

many, whensoever by reason of the offer of a 
better or holier place, or the object of gather 
ing together a greater congregation of folk, 
they do leave their old places and buildings 
through covetousness and avarice, and destroy 
them to make others great and excessive, so 
that they which did there give alms, and 
others that see these things are scandalised 
and troubled thereat. For these reasons it is 
better for the brethren to make their buildings 
little and sorry, observing their profession and 
giving a good ensample to their neighbours, 
than for them to act against their promise 
and give to others an evil ensample. For if 
it were that the brethren should still build 
their houses of the sorriest, albeit they should 
leave a sorry site when a site more decent 
were offered, the scandal would be the less. 

XL How the brethren, WHEN the Blessed 
and more notably they Francis made ordi- 
that had authority and nance that the 
they that had most of churches of the 
human learning were brethren should be 
against the Blessed Fran- and their 

cis as to making the 

places and dwelling places Bouses builded only 

sorry , of stud and mud in 

to ken of holy poverty 

and humility, he, being fain to set this pattern 



22 



Saint Francis of Assist 

first in the place of S. Mary of the Little Por 
tion, and to have the houses therein for the most 
part put together of stud and mud so that it might 
be an everlasting memorial to all the brethren 
present and future for that it was the first and 
chief place of the whole Order, certain brethren 
were against him in this, saying that in certain 
provinces wood was more costly than stone, 
so that it seemed them not good to make the 
houses of stud and mud. But the Blessed 
Francis was not minded to contend with them, 
and the more for that he was nigh unto death 
and sore sick. Wherefore at that time he 
made be written in his will : " Let the breth 
ren take heed that they accept not for their 
own the churches, dwelling-places, and other 
things that may be builded for them save only 
as holy poverty beseemeth, but be lodged 
therein as pilgrims and strangers." But we 
that were with him when he wrote the Rule 
and well-nigh all the rest of his writings do 
bear witness that he made be written in the 
Rule and his other writings many things 
wherein a number of the brethren, and spe 
cially those of us that were in authority and had 
most of human learning, were against him, 
the which would to-day be greatly useful and 
necessary to the whole Religion ; yet natheless, 
for that he sorely feared a scandal, he conde 
scended even aainst his own will to the 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

of the brethren. Nevertheless this speech was 
often on his lips : " Woe unto those brethren 
that set them against me in this matter which 
I know of a certainty to be of the will of 
God for the greater usefulness and need of the 
whole Religion, albeit I unwillingly conde 
scend unto their will." Whence he did often 
times say unto us his companions : " Herein 
is my grief and my affliction, that in these 
things which with much travail of prayer and 
meditation I obtain of God through His 
mercy for the welfare present and future of 
the whole Religion, and am by Himself certi 
fied that they be in accordance with His will, 
yet certain of the brethren on the authority of 
their own knowledge and false forethought do 
go against me and make them void, saying, 
Such and such things are to be kept and 
observed, and such others not. " 



XII. How he held it a THE Blessed Fran- 
theft to obtain alms or to c i swas often wont to 
make use thereof beyond these words untQ 
what is necessary. ^ brethren: 

"Never was I a thief in the matter of alms, 
neither in obtaining the same, nor in making 
use of them beyond what was necessary. 
Always have I received less than I might 
lest the other needy ones should be cheated of 
24 



Saint Francis of Assist 

their portion, for to do the contrary would 
have been robbery." 



XIIL How Christ said WHENthe brethren- 
tmto him that He would minister would per- 
not the brethren should suade hjm that he 

"ould allow the 
brethren to have 
something in common at least so that a multi 
tude so great should have that to which they 
might have recourse, the Blessed Francis in 
prayer did call upon Christ and take counsel 
with Him hereupon. Who forthwith made 
answer, saying : " I will take away all things 
in special and in common ; seeing that as for 
this family always will I be ready to make 
provision, howsoever it may increase, and 
evermore will I cherish it so long as it shall 
hope in Me." 



XIV. Of his execration FRANCIS, true friend 
of money, and in what anc j imitator of 
wise he punished a brother Christ despising 

perfectly all things 

that are of this world, did above all execrate 
money, and both by word and ensample did 
urge his brethren to flee therefrom as from 
the devil. For this was the policy given 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

to the brethren, that money should hold in 
their affections no higher place than dung. 
Now it so befell one day that a certain 
layman, did enter into the church of the 
Blessed Mary of the Little Portion to pray, 
and by way of oblation did place a piece 
of money within the cross. When he 
had gone his way, a certain brother did 
foolishly take the piece in his hand and 
throw it into the locker. But when this was 
told to the Blessed Francis, the brother, 
seeing that he had been caught, straightway 
betook him to pardon, and prostrating himself 
on the ground did proffer him unto the 
stripes. 

The Blessed Francis reasoned with him 
and did chide him right bitterly for that he 
had touched the piece of money, and com 
manded him to pick up the piece out of the 
locker with his mouth and carry it beyond 
the hedge of the place, and set it with his 
own mouth on the dung of an ass. All they 
that did see and hear the same were sore 
stricken with fear, and thenceforward did 
despise money the more for that it had been 
made of no more account than the dung of an 
ass, and every day were they encouraged by 
new ensamples to despise it utterly. 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

XV. Of a voiding codd* THIS man, endued 

ling, and of the multiplica- w ith virtue from on 

tion of habits, and of high, did make 

having patience in him warm rat her 

times of need, from within by 

the divine, than from without by the bodily 
garment. He did detest that any in the 
Order should go clad in threefold garments, 
or make use of clothing more delicate than was 
needful. For he maintained that to make a 
need of that which is a need pointed out by 
the will only, and not by reason, is the token 
of a quenched spirit. "When the spirit," 
saith he, " is lukewarm, and little by little 
cooling away from grace, it cannot be but 
that flesh and blood will seek after the things 
that are their own." He said, moreover : 
" For what remaineth when the soul is with 
out spiritual delights, but for the flesh to turn 
back to its own delights ? Then the animal 
appetite is pleaded in excuse as a point of 
necessity ; then the sense of the flesh doth 
shape the conscience. 

" If a true necessity lieth upon my brother, 
and he forthwith hasteneth to satisfy the 
same, what reward shall he receive ? for an 
opportunity of deserving a reward hath befallen 
him, but he hath taken pains to prove that he 
was loath so to do. For not to bear indi- 



Saint Francis of Assist 

gences patiently is nought else but to seek 
to return into Egypt." 

Lastly, he would that the brethren on no 
account should have more than two habits, 
but these he did allow to be lined with pieces 
sewn on. Choice broadcloths, he said, were 
to be abhorred, and full bitingly would he 
flout them that thwarted him herein ; and 
that he might spur such by his own ensample, 
he did always sew coarse sackcloth upon his 
habit. Whence even at his death he bade his 
burial- habit be covered with sackcloth. How- 
beit, those brethren whom sickness or other 
necessity did compel, did put on another soft 
habit underneath, next the skin ; but in such- 
wise as that without-doors coarseness and 
meanness should be observed in their outward 
seeming. For with sore sorrow was he wont 
to say : " Presently will rigour be so greatly 
relaxed, and lukewarmness will so far prevail, 
as that the sons of a father that was a beggar 
will not be ashamed even to wear scarlet cloth, 
with only a change of colour." 

XVI That he would Now, when the 
not satisfy his body with Blessed Francis was 
aught whereof he thought sojourning at the 
that other brethren were herm itage of S. 
in want, -^ i L 

JMeuthenus over 

against Rieti, by reason of the great cold he 
28 



Saint Francis of Assist 

did line his own habit and the habit of his 
companion Richer with sundry pieces of cloth 
so that thereby his body began to be some 
little comforted, for he never wore but one 
habit, to wit, the one he wore every day. And 
a little after, when he was coming back from 
prayer, with great gladness he said to his 
companion : " Me it behoveth be the pattern 
and example of all the brethren, wherefore, 
albeit that it is necessary for my body to have 
my habit lined, yet it is meet that I take 
thought for others my brethren unto whom 
the same thing is a necessity, but who haply 
neither have it nor can have it. Whence 
behoveth me consider them, so that I may 
suffer the necessities which they themselves 
suffer, so that, when they see this in me, 
they may bear their own with the greater 
patience." 

But what and how great were the necessities 
that he denied his body to the intent that he 
might give a good ensample to the brethren, 
and that they might bear their own needs 
more willingly, we that were with him can 
never set forth in words nor in writing. For 
after that the brethren began to be multiplied 
he made it his highest and chiefest study to 
teach the brethren the things that they had to 
do or to avoid rather by his deeds than by his 
words. 



Saint Francis oi Assisi 

XVII. That he was ONCE on a time, 
ashamed to see any man w hen he had met 
poorer than himself, acertainneedy 

man, taking note of his poverty, he said 
unto his companion : " That man s poverty 
doth imply great shame unto us, and doth 
sorely rebuke our poverty, for the greatest 
shame is it to me whensoever I find one 
poorer than myself, seeing that I have chosen 
holy poverty for my Lady and for my spiritual 
and bodily riches, and this voice hath been 
bruited abroad throughout the world, to wit, 
that I have professed poverty before God and 
before men." 



XVHI.-HOW he did WHEN the Blessed 
induce and teach the Francis began to 
first brethren to go forth haye brethren, so 
foralms * mightily was he 

pleased with their conversion, and that the Lord 
had given him so goodly acompany, and so greatly 
did he love and reverence them, that he did 
not tell them to go forth for alms. More 
especially for that it seemed unto him that 
they were ashamed to go, wherefore, that he 
might spare their shame, he himself did every 
day go forth for alms alone. And when he 
was overwearied with this toil, especially for 
that he had been delicately nurtured in the 
3 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

world, and was feeble of bodily complexion, 
and had been yet more enfeebled by exceeding 
abstinence and affliction, and perceiving that 
he was not able to endure so heavy travail 
alone, and that they had been called to this 
work, albeit they were ashamed to do it, for 
that as yet they knew not fully, neither had 
they discretion enough to say : " We also are 
willing to go for alms." Wherefore he said 
unto them : " My dearest brethren and little 
children, be ye not ashamed to go forth for 
alms, for the Lord did make Him poor in this 
world for us, and by His ensample have we 
made choice of the truest poverty. For this 
is our heritage that our Lord Jesus Christ did 
achieve and hath left unto us and unto all that 
fain would live in holy poverty according to His 
ensample. Of a truth I tell you that many 
of the holier and nobler sort of this world shall 
come unto this congregation, and shall hold it 
for high honour and grace to go forth for alms. 
Go ye forth, therefore, in confidence and with a 
gladsome heart for alms with God s blessing, 
and more willingly and gladly ought ye to go for 
alms than he that for a single piece of money 
did offer an hundred pence, seeing that unto 
them from whom ye shall ask an alms ye do 
offer the love of God, saying : c For the love 
of God do us an alms, in comparison where 
with heaven and earth are nought." 



Saint Francis of Assist 

And, for that the brethren were few, he 
was not able to send them forth two and two, 
wherefore he sent each one by himself to go 
among the castles and towns. And it came 
to pass, when they returned with such alms 
as they had found, that each did show to the 
Blessed Francis the alms that he had gathered. 
And one would say unto another : " I have 
gathered more alms than thou." Afid the 
Blessed Francis did rejoice hereof beholding 
them so blithe and joyous. And thencefor 
ward did each right gladly ask leave to go 
forth for alms. 



XIX, That he would ABOUT the same 

not the brethren should t i mC) wrien the 

be anxious to make Blessed Francis was 

prov^on for to- with uchb h 

as he then had, 

in so great poverty did he live with them 
that in all things and throughout all they did 
observe the Holy Gospel to the letter, to wit, 
from the day that the Lord revealed unto him 
that he and his brethren ought to live accord 
ing to the pattern of the Holy Gospel. 
Wherefore he forbade the brother that did 
the cooking for the brethren to put the herbs 
into hot water of an evening, as is the wont, 
when he was to give them the brethren to eat 
3* 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

on the day following, so that that they might 
observe that word of the Holy Gospel, " Take 
no thought for the morrow." And so that 
brother did put off setting them to be sodden 
until after matins, when the day was already 
begun whereon they should be eaten. Where 
fore for a long time many brethren in many 
places did observe the same, having no mind 
to gather or receive more alms than were 
necessary for one day, more especially in the 
cities. 



XX, How he did rebuke \VHEN a certain 
by word and example minister of the 
those brethren that had brethren had come 
made ready the table tQ the Blessed 
sumptuously on the day of ^ r 

the Lord s Nativity. Francis for the 

purpose of cele 
brating with him the feast of the Lord s 
nativity at the place of the brethren of Rieti, 
the brethren, by occasion of the minister and 
the feast, had set out the tables somewhat 
worshipfully and curiously on the very day of 
the Nativity, spreading napkins fair and 
white, with glass vessels thereupon. The 
Blessed Francis, coming down from his cell 
to eat, saw the tables raised on a dais and 
curiously set out. Thereupon he went 
straightway secretly and took the staff and 
33 c 



Saint Francis of Assist 

scrip of a certain poor man that had come 
that day, 1 and, calling one of his companions 
in a whisper, he went forth of the door with 
out the brethren of the house knowing it. 
Howbeit, the companion abided within nigh 
the door. In the meanwhile the brethren came 
in to meat, for the Blessed Francis had bidden 
the brethren never to wait for him when he 
came not forthwith at the hour of eating 
together. And, after that he had stood a little 
space without, he knocked at the door, and 
forthwith his companion opened unto him, 
and, coming in with the scrip on his back and 
the staff in his hand, he went to the door of 
the house, wherein the brethren were eating, 
together, as a pilgrim and a beggar, and cried 
out, saying : " For the love of our Lord God 
give an alms to this poor sick pilgrim ! " But 
the minister and the rest of the brethren did 
know him again at once, and the minister 
made answer unto him : " Brother, we also 
be poor, and for that we be many, the alms 
that we have be necessary unto us, but for the 
love of the Lord of whom thou hast spoken, 
enter into the house, and we will give thee of 
the alms that the Lord hath given unto us ! " 
And when he had come in, and was standing 
before the table of the brethren, the minister 
gave him a platter, wherein he did eat, and of 
the bread in like manner. And, receiving the 
34 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

same, he sate humbly by the fire, while the 
brethren did sit at the table. Then he sighed 
and said to the brethren : " When I beheld 
the table honourably and curiously made ready, 
I bethought me that it was not the table of 
poor Religious that every day do go from door 
to door for alms, for, my best beloved, unto us 
rather is it seemly to follow the ensample of 
the humility and poverty of Christ even more 
than unto other Religious, forasmuch as unto 
this have we been called and made profession 
thereof before God and before men. Whence 
meseemeth it only right that I should sit as a 
brother Minor, for the festivals of the Lord 
and of other saints be more honoured by the 
need and poverty whereby the saints them 
selves did win to heaven, than by the curious- 
ness and superfluity whereby the soul is 
withdrawn away from Heaven." Hereat 
were the brethren ashamed, bethinking them 
that what he had said was very sooth. And 
certain of them began to weep sore, beholding 
how he sat upon the ground, and that he was 
fain to correct and teach them in such holy 
and simple wise. He admonished the brethren, 
moreover, that they should have their tables 
so humble and cleanly as that they of this 
world might be edified thereby, and if it 
should so befall that any poor man should be 
invited by the brethren, he might sit along 
35 






Saint Francis of Assist 

with them as an equal, and not, Jike a beggar, 
on the ground, while the brethren sate at the 
high table. 



XXL How the Lord THE Lord Bishop of 

Bishop of Ostia wept and Qstia that was after- 

was edified at the poverty war d s p ope Gregory, 

of the brethren. when he came tQ the 

Chapter of the brethren at S. Mary of the 
Little Portion, went into the house to look at 
the brethren s dormitory with a number of 
soldiers and clerics, and, when he saw that the 
brethren lay on the ground and had nought 
under them but a little straw and some bolsters, *- 
all tattered and torn as it were, and no pillows, 
he began to weep sore before them all, saying: 
" Look you here where the brethren sleep, 
while we wretched ones do make use of so 
many superfluities ! How will it be with us for 
this ? " Whereby he himself and all the rest 
were much edified. Moreover, no table saw 
he there, for that in that place the brethren 
did eat together on the ground. 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

XXIL How the soldiers WHEN the Blessed 
found things necessary by Francis was at the 
asking an alms from door Jace at fiagnara 
to door according to the ab h f f 

counsel of the Blessed XT , . 

Francis, Nocera, his feet 

began to swell 

grievously by reason of the ailment of a dropsy, 
and sore sick was he there. But when the men 
of Assisi heard thereof, certain soldiers came in 
haste to that place that they might bring him to 
Assisi, fearing lest in case he should die there, 
others might have his most holy body. But 
whilst they were bringing him on the way, 
they rested in a certain walled town within the 
lordship of Assisi to dine there, and the Blessed 
Francis lay quiet in the house of a certain 
poor man that willingly did take him in, while 
the soldiers went about the town to buy them 
necessaries, the which howbeit they found not. 
Wherefore they came back to the Blessed 
Francis, saying unto him as it were in jest : 
"Brother, needs must you give us some of 
your alms, for here can we have nought to 
eat." And the Blessed Francis with great 
fervour of spirit saith unto them : " The 
reason wherefore ye have found nought is that 
ye put your trust in your flies and your deniers " 
for he was wont to call money " flies " 
" and not in God. Now turn ye back 
to the houses among the which ye went seek- 
37 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

Ing to buy, and setting aside all shamefast- 
ness, ask an alms there for the love of the 
Lord God, and by the inspiration of the Holy 
Spirit they will give unto you abundantly." 

They went therefore and asked an alms as 
he had told them and with much gladness and 
abundance did they of whom the alms were 
asked give of such things as they had. And 
knowing that this by miracle had befallen 
them, with great joy did they return unto the 
Blessed Francis praising the Lord. 

Thus, verily, did the Blessed Francis hold 
it a high nobility both as towards God and as 
towards the world to seek alms for the love of 
the Lord God, for that all things which the 
Heavenly Father did create for the use of man 
on account of His love for His well-beloved 
Son, were freely granted by way of alms after 
sin, alike to the worthy and the unworthy. 

For he said that the servant of God ought 
more willingly and joyfully to ask an alms for 
the love of the Lord God, than he that 
of his largesse and courtesy should go about 
saying : " Whosoever shall give me such a 
piece of money as is worth but a single penny 
unto him will I give a thousand marks of 
gold," forasmuch as the servant of God in 
asking an alms doth offer the love of God 
unto them of whom he asketh, in comparison 
wherewith all things that are in heaven and in 
38 



Saint Francis of Assist 

earth be as nought. Whence before such 
time as the brethren were multiplied, and even 
after that they were multiplied, when they 
went about the world preaching and were 
invited by any howsoever noble and rich, to eat 
and to lodge with him, always at the hour 
of eating they went for alms or ever they 
went into his house, as a good ensample to the 
brethren and for the dignity of our Lady 
Poverty. And many a time did he say unto 
him that did invite him that he would not go, 
making answer thus unto him : " I am fain 
not to lay aside my royal dignity and heritage, 
and my profession and that of my brethren, 
to wit, to go for alms from door to door." And 
sometimes he that had invited him would go 
with him, and such alms as the Blessed 
Francis did obtain would he keep as relics on 
account of his devotion. He that wrote these 
things saw this many a time and doth hereby 
bear witness thereof. 



XXIIL How he went lot ON a time when the 
alms before he would go Blessed Francis was 
in to the Cardinal s v i s i t i ng t h e Lord 
table * Bishop of Ostia 

that was afterward Pope Gregory, at the 
hour of eating together he went as it 
were by stealth from door to door for 
39 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

alms, and when he was come back the 
Lord Bishop of Ostia had already gone in 
to meat with a number of knights and 
nobles. But the Blessed Francis drawing 
nigh the table did set thereon before the 
Cardinal such alms as he had found and took 
his seat next him at the table, for he would 
that the Blessed Francis should always sit 
anigh him. And the Cardinal was thereby 
some little ashamed that he should have gone 
for alms and set them on the table, but as at 
that time he said nought unto him on account 
of them that were there present seated. And 
when he had eaten some little, the Blessed 
Francis took of his alms and sent a morsel 
thereof to each of the knights and the chap 
lains of my Lord Cardinal on behalf of our 
Lord God. Who all receiving the same with 
great gladness and devotion, did spread out their 
hoods and cassocks and some did eat thereof 
and some did set it aside out of devotion to 
him. But my Lord Cardinal of Ostia did 
greatly rejoice thereat on account of their 
devotion and most of all for that those alms 
were not of wheaten bread. 

After meat, he went into his chamber, 
taking with him the Blessed Francis, and 
lifting up his arms did embrace the Blessed 
Francis with exceeding gladness and rejoicing, 
saying unto him : " O most simple brother 
40 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

mine, wherefore hast thou done me shame this 
day, insomuch as that coming to my house, 
which is the house of the brethren, thou 
shouldst go forth for alms ? " 

The Blessed Francis made answer : a Verily, 
my Lord, I have shown thee the greatest honour, 
for that when a liege subject doth his duty and 
fulfilleth his obedience unto his lord, he doth 
honour unto his lord, and," saith he, " meet it 
is that I be the pattern and ensample of your 
poor men, and most of all for that I know in 
this religion of the brotherhood there are and 
will be brethren Minor in name and in work 
that for the love of the Lord God and for the 
anointing of the Holy Spirit who shall teach 
them in all things shall humble themselves 
to all humility and subjection and service of 
their brethren. Some, moreover, there are 
and will be among them that either held back 
by shame or by reason of evil habit disdain and 
will disdain to humiliate and lower themselves 
by going forth for alms and to do other menial 
works, wherefore it is meet that I teach by 
my work them that are and shall be of the 
religion, so as that in this world and in the 
world to come they may be without excuse 
before God. When, therefore, I am sojourn 
ing with you that are our Lord and Pope, or 
with other worshipful and rich men of the 
world that for the love of our Lord God do 
41 



Saint Francis of Assist 

not only receive me with much devotion into 
your houses, but do even compel me to come 
in, I am fain not to be ashamed of going forth 
for alms, nay, rather, am I fain to have and to 
hold this as towards God for the highest 
nobility and a royal dignity, and in honour of 
Him who being Lord of all was willing for 
our sakes to become servant of all, and who 
when He was rich and glorious in His majesty 
did come as one poor and despised in our 
humility. Whence I desire that the brethren, 
both they that now are and they that shall 
be hereafter, should know that I hold it for a 
greater consolation both of soul and body when 
I sit at the sorry table of the brethren, and *- 
behold before me the sorry alms that are 
obtained from door to door for the love of our 
Lord God, than when I sit at your board or 
that of other lords plentifully laid out with 
divers dainty meats. For the bread of alms 
is holy bread that the praise and love of the 
Lord God doth hallow, forasmuch as whenso 
ever a brother goeth forth for alms, he ought 
first of all to say : c Praised and blessed be 
God our Lord. Afterwards he ought to 
say : c Do us an alms for the love of our 
Lord God! " 

And by the setting forth of words of this 
kind by the Blessed Francis was the Cardinal 
greatly edified, and he saith unto him, " My 
42 



Saint Francis of Assist 

son, do whatsoever is right in thine own eyes, 
forasmuch as God is with thee and thou art 
with Him." 

For the will of the Blessed Francis was 
thus, and many a time he said that a brother 
ought not to stand long upon going forth 
for alms on account of the great merit thereof 
and lest he should be shamed to go forth 
afterwards. Yea, the more noble and better 
off in the world was the brother, by so much 
the more was he rejoiced and edined as con 
cerning him when he went forth for alms 
and did other menial works that the brethren 
did as at that time. 



XXIV, Of the brother AT the outset of the 
that did neither pray Religion, when the 
nor work, but did eat brethren sojourned 
wel1 at Rivo Torto, near 

Assisi, among them was a .certain brother 
that did hardly pray at all, and never did any 
work. He would not go forth for alms, but 
he did eat bravely. Perceiving these things, 
the Blessed Francis knew by the Holy Spirit 
that he was a carnal man, and saith he unto 
him : " Go thy ways, brother fly, forasmuch 
as thou art minded to devour the labour of thy 
brethren and to be slothful in the work of 
God, even as the idle drone and barren that 
43 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

winneth nought nor laboureth, but devoureth 
the winning and the travail of the good bees." 
And so he went his way, and, for that he was 
carnal, he neither sought for nor found 
mercy. 

XXV. How he went AT another time, 

forth with fervour to a a ] so while the 

certain poor man that Blessed Frands wag 

went with alms praising sojourning at g 

Mary of the Little 

Portion, a certain poor man, right spiritual, 
came by the highway as he returned from 
Assisi, whither he had gone for alms, and** 
he went along praising God in a loud 
voice with great gladness. But when he 
came nigh the church of the Blessed Mary, 
the Blessed Francis heard him, and forthwith 
went out to him with exceeding great fervour 
and joy, meeting him in the way, and with 
much gladness kissing his shoulder, whereon 
he bore the wallet with his alms. And he 
took the wallet from his shoulder and set it 
on his own shoulder, and so carried the same 
into the house of the brethren, and said before 
the brethren : " Thus would I that my brother 
should go and return with alms, glad and 
joyful and praising God." 



Saint Francis of Assist 

XXVI, How it was re- ON a certain occa- 
vealed unto him of the s j on t he Blessed 
Lord that they should be F ranc i s sa id . "The 
called Friars Minor, to Rdi ion and * Hfe of 
wit, Lesser Brethren, and , P . **. 

should announce peace the brethren Minor 
and salvation, 1S a certain little 

flock that the Son or 

God in this last hour did ask of His Heavenly 
Father, saying : c Father, I would that Thou 
shouldst make and give Me a new people and 
an humble in this last hour, that in humilityand 
poverty shall be unlike unto all that have gone 
before them, and shall be content to have Me 
only. And the Father hearkeneth unto His 
Son, and saith : c My Son, this that Thou 
hast asked of Me is done. " 

Whence the Blessed Francis said that God 
did therefore will and reveal unto him that 
they should be called brethren Minor, for that 
they be the people poor and humble whom the 
Son of God did ask of His Father, of the 
which people the Son of God Himself saith 
in the Gospel : " Fear not, little flock, for it 
is your Father s good pleasure to give you the 
kingdom." And again : " Inasmuch as ye 
have done it unto one of the least of these 
My brethren, ye have done it unto Me." And 
albeit the Lord did understand this of all poor 
men spiritual, yet did he hereby more espe 
cially foretell the Religion of the brethren 
45 



Saint Francis of Assist 

Minor that should come thereafter in His 
Church. 

Wherefore, according as it was revealed 
unto the Blessed Francis that the Religion 
ought to be called of the brethren Minor, so 
did he make the same be written in the first 
Rule that he did lay before Pope Innocent III., 
who did approve and grant it, and afterwards 
did announce in Consistory to all. In like 
wise the Lord did reveal to him the salutation 
that the brethren ought to say, even as he made 
be written in his will, saying : " The Lord 
revealed unto me that I ought to say by way 
of salutation : c The Lord give thee peace ! ; 

Whence, in the beginning of the Religion, 
when he went with a certain brother that was 
one of the twelve first, the brother saluted 
men and women by the way and them that 
were in the fields, saying : " The Lord give 
ye peace : " And, for that men had not heard 
such a salutation made aforetime by any Reli 
gious, they did much marvel thereof. Yea, 
some there were that said unto them with 
indignation : " What meaneth this same salu 
tation of yours ? " So that the brother did 
begin thereof to be ashamed, and on this 
account said unto the Blessed Francis : " Give 
me leave to say another salutation." And the 
Blessed Francis saith unto him : " Let them 
talk, for they perceive not the things that are 
46 



Saint Francis of Assist 

of God. Natheless, be not ashamed, forasmuch 
as nobles and princes of this world shall mani 
fest their reverence toward thee and other of 
the brethren by reason of this salutation. For 
no great thing is it, and if the Lord be minded 
to have a new people and a small, peculiar and 
unlike all that went before in life and in 
words, that shall be content to have Himself 
only, that is sweeter than any ! " 



THE THIRD PART, OF CHARITY 
AND COMPASSION AND CONDE 
SCENSION TO ONE S NEIGHBOUR, 

XXVII. And, first, how ON a time when the 
he condescended to a Blessed Francis 
brother that was dying of began to have 
hunger eating with him bre & thren and was 
and admonishing the . . . , 

brethren that they should sojourning with 
do penance discreetly. them at Rlvo Torto, 

near Assisi, it so fell 

out on a certain night, while all the brethren 
were asleep about the middle of the night, that 
one of the brethren cried out saying : " I am 
dying ! I am dying ! " Whereupon all the 
brethren did awake from sleep amazed and 
sore afeard. And, rising up, the Blessed 
Francis said : " Arise, brethren, and kindle 
47 



Saint Francis of Assist 

the light ! " And when the light was kindled 
he said : " Who is he that said * I am dying ?" 
And the brother made answer: "I am he." 
And he saith unto him: "What aileth thee, 
brother? How art thou dying?" But he 
saith : "I am dying of hunger." 

Then the Blessed Francis forthwith had a 
table laid out, and, as a man full of charity 
and discretion, did eat with him lest he should 
be ashamed to eat alone ; and by his will, all 
the other brethren did eat with him likewise. 

For that brother and all the rest were newly 
converted to the Lord, and did afflict their 
bodies beyond measure. And after that they 
had eaten together, the Blessed Francis said" 
unto the rest of the brethren: "My best 
beloved, I say unto you that each one of you 
ought to pay heed unto his own nature, for, 
albeit that some one of you may be strong enow 
to be sustained by less food than other some, yet 
it is my will that he which needeth more food 
shall not be bound to imitate that other herein, 
but, paying heed to his own nature, let him 
allow his body the necessity thereof, in such 
sort that he may be enough strong to serve 
the spirit. For, whereas we be held to beware 
of superfluity of food, the which is a hindrance 
both to the body and the soul, so likewise, and 
even more, ought we to beware of too great 
abstinence, seeing that the Lord willeth mercy 

48 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

and not sacrifice." Moreover, saith he : "My 
best beloved brethren, this that I have done, 
to wit, that out of charity toward my brother, 
we have eaten together equally with him, lest 
he should be ashamed to eat alone, it was 
rather necessity and charity that compelled me 
so to do ; but I say unto you that it is not my 
will hereafter to do the like, forasmuch as it 
would be neither religious nor becoming ; but 
my will it is, and I do enjoin you that each 
one of the brethren do, according to our 
poverty, satisfy the needs of his body as may 
be necessary for him." 

For the first brethren, and others that came 
after them, for a long time did afflict their 
bodies beyond measure by abstinence from 
meat and drink, by vigils, by cold, by coarseness 
of raiment, and by the labour of their hands. 
They wore underneath, next the skin, girdles 
of iron and exceeding strong coats of chain- 
mail and hair shirts; wherefore the holy father, 
bethinking him that upon such occasion the 
brethren might become ailing and sick, and, 
in truth, certain of them did in a little time 
wax sick, did in a certain clause forbid any 
brother to wear aught save his habit only 
underneath next the skin. 

Natheless, we that were with him do bear 
witness of him that, albeit all the days of his 
ife he was discreet and forbearing toward the 
49 D 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

brethren, yet was it in such sort as that the 
brethren, in the matter of food as in other 
things, should at no time ever depart from the 
way of poverty and decency of our Religion. 
The most holy father himself, from the begin 
ning of his conversion even unto the end of his 
life was nevertheless always austere toward his 
own body, albeit he was by nature feeble, and 
could not live in the world otherwise than 
delicately. Whence, on a certain time, taking 
note that the brethren did, as at that time, 
exceed the measure of poverty and decency in 
food and in all things, in a certain sermon he 
preached to sundry of the brethren, in the 
person of all the brethren he said : " T 
brethren think that our pittance is not enow 
for the necessities of my body, yet, inasmuch 
as it behoveth me to be the pattern and en- 
sample of all the brethren, it is my will to use 
and to be content with few meats, and those 
of the poorest, and to use all other things in 
accordance with poverty, utterly abhorring al 
things sumptuous and delicate." 



XXVIII, How he con* ANOTHER time, 
descended to a sick brother when the B lessee 
by eating grapes with Francis was at the 
im * same place, a certain 

spiritual brother and ancient in the religion lay 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

there sick and very feeble. Taking note of whom 
the Blessed Francis was moved to pity over 
him, but forasmuch as that time the brethren, 
both they that were heal and they that were 
sick, did with great cheerfulness use poverty 
as it had been abundance, and in their ailments 
made no use of medicines, nor did even ask 
for them, but did rather take more willingly 
such things as were unwholesome to the body, 
the Blessed Francis said within himself: " And 
that brother would eat ripe grapes the first 
thing in the morning, I do believe it would 
do him good." And as he thought even so 
did he. 

Whereupon one day he arose early in the 
morning and called the brother secretly and 
led him into a certain vineyard that was 
nigh the place. And he chose a vine whereon 
were grapes good to eat, and seating him nigh 
the vine with the brother, he began to eat of 
the grapes lest the brother himself should be 
ashamed to eat alone. And while they were 
yet eating, the brother was delivered of his 
ailment, and both together alike praised God. 

Whence that brother did all the days of his 
life remember the mercy and pity that the 
most holy father showed and did unto him, 
and oftentimes with great devotion and shed 
ding of tears would relate the same among 
the brethren. 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

XXIX, How he made AT Celano in the 

strip himself and his com- winter time when 

panion that he might the Blessed Francis 

clothe a poor woman. had & doth folded 

after the fashion of a mantle that a certain friend of 
the brethren had lent him, a certain old woman 
met him and begged an alms. Whereupon 
he straightway loosed the cloth from his neck, 
and albeit that it were another s, gave it to 
the poor woman, saying : " Go and make thee 
a kirtle thereof for thy need is sore enow." 

The old woman laughed thereat, and in 
amaze, I know not whether of fear or joy, 
took the cloth from his hands, and for fear 
lest and if she should wait there might be* 
danger of the same being asked for back, ran 
as fast as she could and cut the cloth with her 
shears. But when she found that there was 
not enough cloth for a kirtle, she came 
running back to the first kindness of the holy 
father, pointing out to him that the piece of 
cloth was too scanty for a kirtle. The saint 
turned his eyes toward his companion that 
wore such another piece of cloth on his back, 
and said unto him : " Thou hearest what this 
poor woman saith : For the love of God let 
us bear with the cold and give that piece of 
cloth to the poor woman, so that her kirtle 
may be whole." And straightway as he him 
self had given, the companion gave also. 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

Thus did both of them abide bare that the 
poor woman might be clad. 



XXX. That he held it a ONCE on a time 
theft not to give to one when he was 
more needy. coming back from 

Siena he met with a certain poor man, and 
saith he to his companion, " Needs must 
we render up his mantle to this poor man 
whose own it is, ror we only received the 
same as a loan until such time as we should 
find one poorer than ourselves." But the 
companion having regard to the pious father s 
own necessity, stoutly maintained that he 
ought not to provide for another and neglect 
himself. Unto whom said St. Francis : 
" No mind have I to be a thief, for it would 
be imputed to us as a theft were we not to 
give it to one more needy." Whereupon the 
pious father gave the mantle as a present to 
the poor man. 



XXXL How he gave a AT the Cell of 

new mantle to a poor man Cortona the Blessed 

upon condition, Francis wore a 

new mantle that the brethren had pro 
cured for him with some trouble. A poor 

man came to the place lamenting his wife 
53 



Saint Francis of Assist 

that was dead and his family left poverty- 
stricken. On whom the Saint having com- ] 
passion, said : " I give thee this mantle upon 
such condition, that thou render it up to none 
save he buy it fairly and pay thee." And 
when the brethren heard this, they ran 
together to the poor man, that they might ; 
take the mantle away from him. But the 
poor man taking heart of grace in the sight of 
the holy father, held it fast with joined hands, 
and was carrying it off as being his own. In 
the end the brethren redeemed the mantle, 
taking care that a fair price should be paid to 
the poor man. 

XXXIL-How a certain AT the Hill in the 

poor man, by virtue of lordship of Perugia, 
the alms of the Blessed the Blessed Francis 
Francis, forgave his lord tQok [n a certain 
the wrongs he had done , 

him, and laid aside his m f 

hatred, ^ad known afore 

time in the world, 

and said unto him : " Brother, how is it with 
thee ? " But he in the wrath of his heart 
began to utter curses against his lord, saying : 
" Thanks to my lord, whom may the Lord 
curse, I cannot be otherwise than ill, seeing 
that all my goods hath he taken away from 



54 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

But the Blessed Francis seeing that he 
persisted in his deadly hatred, having pity on 
his soul, saith unto him : " Brother, for the 
love of God, forgive thy lord, that thou mayst 
set free thy soul, and it may be that he will 
give thee back the things he hath taken from 
thee. Elsewise thou hast lost thy things and 
wilt lose thy soul." And he said : " I cannot 
utterly forgive him save he give me back the 
things he hath taken away from me." Then 
the Blessed Francis said : " Behold, I give 
thee this mantle, and I pray thee for the love 
of the Lord God that thou forgive thy lord." 
And forthwith his heart was sweetened, and 
moved thereunto by the favour, he did forgive 
his lord the wrongs he had done him. 



XXXIIL How he sent a A CERTAIN poor 
mantle to a poor woman WO man of Machilone 
that suffered in the eyes as came to Ried for an 
did himself. infirmity of the eyes. 

But when the leech came to the Blessed Francis 
he said unto him : " Brother, a certain woman 
that hath an infirmity of the eyes hath come 
unto me, but so poor is she that needs must I 
give her her expenses." As soon as he heard this 
he was moved to pity of her case, and calling 
one of the brethren that was his warden, he 
said unto him : " Brother warden, needs must 
55 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

we return our loan." Who saith : " What is 
the loan, brother ? " Whereupon he said : 
" The mantle that we did borrow of the poor 
sick woman we must return unto her." And 
his warden saith unto him : " Brother, what 
soever seemeth thee best, that do thou." 

Then the Blessed Francis did joyfully call 
a certain spiritual man that was familiar with 
him and said unto him : " Take this mantle 
and twelve loaves therewithal, and go unto 
the poor woman that hath an infirmity of the 
eyes, whom the leech shall show thee, and say 
unto her : < The poor man unto whom thou 
didst lend this mantle sendeth thanks unto 
thee for the loan thereof. Take that which is 
thine own. " 

He went accordingly and said to the woman 
all that the Blessed Francis had said unto him. 
But she, conceiving that a jape was being 
played upon her, with fear and shamefastness 
said unto him : " Let me go in peace. I know 
nought of that thou sayest." Whereupon he 
set the mantle and the twelve loaves in her 
hands. But she, perceiving that he spake this 
in very sooth, with fear and reverence received 
the same rejoicing and praising the Lord. And 
fearing lest it should be taken away from her, 
she arose stealthily by night and went back to 
her own house with joy. But the Blessed 
Francis had made ordinance with his warden 

56 



Saint Francis of Assist 

to give her her expenses every day so long as 
she abode there. 

We therefore that were with him do bear 
witness of him that so great was his charity 
and pity both to sick and heal, not only 
toward his brethren, but also toward other 
poor folk both heal and sick, that those neces 
saries of his body that the brethren at times 
did procure for him with great pains and 
travail, first of all soothing us with soft words 
less we should be troubled thereat, with much 
inward as well as outward gladness he would 
give unto the poor, even though he himself 
should go without things that were very 
necessary for him. And on this account the 
Minister General and his own warden did 
enjoin him not to give his habit to any of the 
brethren without their leave. For the brethren 
of their devotion toward him would sometimes 
beg a habit of him which he gave them 
straightway, and sometimes he would divide 
the same, giving a part and keeping a part 
himself, forasmuch as he never wore but a 
single habit. 

XXXIV. How he gave IT thus fell out that 
his habit to the brethren on a t i me w hen he 
who begged it for the love was going thr ough a 
* certain province 

preaching, two Frenchborn brethren met him, 
57 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

and after that they had had much consolation 
from him, at last they begged his habit of him for 
the love of God. But he forthwith, so soon as 
he heard the words " love of God," put off his 
habit and gave it unto them, himself abiding 
naked some part of an hour. 

For whensoever any did allege the love of 
God to him, whether it were the cord where 
with he was girded, or his habit or aught else 
that were asked, he never denied it to any ; 
yea, he did hereby put himself to sore straits, 
and oftentimes would he rebuke the brethren 
for that on account of almost anything what 
soever they would take the name of "the 
love of God" in vain. For he would say: 
" So passing high and precious is the love of 
God, that never ought it to be named save in 
seldom times of necessity, and then only with 
great reverence." 

But one of those brethren did put off his 
habit and gave it unto him in like manner. 
Whensoever he gave his habit or a part there 
of to another, he did thereby suffer great 
necessity and tribulation for that he could not 
have another habit quickly enough, more 
especially for that he was always minded to 
wear a poor habit pieced together with patches 
sometimes both within and without ; yea, 
never or right seldom would he wear a habit 
of new cloth, but would obtain from some 
58 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

brother his habit which he had worn for some 
time. And at times he would even accept 
one part of his habit from one brother and 
another part from another. On the inner side, 
on account of his many infirmities and chills 
of the stomach and the spleen, he would some 
times patch it double with new cloth. And 
this manner of poverty in his raiment did he 
hold and observe until the year that he de 
parted to the Lord ; for a few days before his 
death, for that he was dropsical and as it were 
all dried up, and on account of the many 
other infirmities that he had, the brethren 
made a many habits for him for that of neces 
sity his habit had to be changed every day and 
night. 



XXXV. How he was ANOTHER time a 
minded to give a poor certain poor man 
man a piece of cloth by came to the place 

stealth * where the Blessed 

Francis was, arid asked of the brethren a piece 
of cloth for the love of God. Which when he 
heard, the Blessed Francis said unto one of the 
brethren: "Make search through the house and 
see whether thou canst find a piece or any cloth 
and give the same unto the poor man." And 
the brother ran all over the house and said he 
could not find any. 

59 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

But so that the poor brother should not go 
back empty-handed, the Blessed Francis went 
secretly because of the warden, lest he should 
forbid him, and took a knife, and sitting down 
in a secret place began to cut off a piece of his 
habit that was sewn on the inner side, mean 
ing to give it to the poor man secretly. But 
the warden perceiving the same, straightway 
went to him and forbade him to give it, and 
the more for that the cold at that time was 
great and he himself was sick and exceeding 
cold. Wherefore the Blessed Francis said 
unto him : " If so be that thou wilt I should 
not give him this piece, thou must by all 
means make be given some other piece to our 
poor brother." And so the brethren gave the 
poor man some cloth from their habits at the 
instance of the Blessed Francis. 

When he went about the world preaching, 
whether he were afoot or on an ass after that 
he began to be sick, or on horseback in very 
great and extreme necessity, for otherwise 
would he not ride, and this but a little before 
his death, if it were that any brother lent him 
a mantle, he would only accept the same on 
such condition as that he might give it to any 
poor person that he met or that might come 
unto him, so only that his spirit should bear 
witness that it was necessary unto him. 

60 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

XXXVL How he told AT the outset 
Brother Egidhis to clothe o f t h e Religion, 
thepoorman. whi j e he wag 

sojourning at Rivo Torto with two com 
panions that were all he had as at that time, 
behold a certain man by name Egidius, that 
was the third brother, came to him out of 
the world, intending to take upon himself his 
manner of life. 

And what time he thus abode there for 
several days clad in the garments he had 
brought with him out of the world, it came 
to pass that a certain poor man came to that 
place begging an alms of the Blessed Francis. 
The Blessed Francis turning him to this 
Egidius, saith unto him : " Give the poor 
brother thy mantle." Who forthwith with 
great gladness took it off his shoulders and 
gave it to the poor man. And thereupon 
seemed it unto him that straightway God had 
sent new grace into his heart for that he had 
given his mantle to the poor man with cheer 
fulness. And thus after that he was received 
by the Blessed Francis he did ever make 
godly progress even to the very highest per 
fection. 



61 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

XXXVII. Of the pen- WHEN the Blessed 
ance he gave a brother Francis had gone for 
that did misdeem of a tne purpose of 
poor man, preaching to a cer 

tain place of the brethren nigh unto Rocca 
Brizzi, it so befell that on the very day that he 
should preach, a certain poor man that was sick 
came unto him. On whom having much com 
passion, he began to speak to his companion 
about his poverty and sickness, and his com 
panion saith unto him : " True it is, brother, 
that he seemeth poor enow, yet haply in all the 
province is none that hath greater will to be 
rich." 

And being forthwith sharply rebuked by 
the Blessed Francis he did acknowledge his 
fault. And the Blessed Francis saith : " Wilt 
thou on this account do the penance that I 
shall enjoin thee ? " Who made answer : 
" Willingly will I do it." And he said unto 
him : a Go and put off thy habit and cast thee 
down naked at the feet of the poor man and 
tell him how thou hast sinned against him in 
disparaging him and bid him that he pray for 
thee." He went therefore and did all things 
as the Blessed Francis had bidden him. And 
after that he had so done he rose up and did 
on his habit and went back to the Blessed 
Francis. And the Blessed Francis saith unto 
him : " Wouldst thou know how thou didst 
62 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

sin against him, yea rather, against Christ ? 
When thou seest a poor man, thou oughtest 
to bethink thee of Him in whose name he 
cometh, to wit, Christ that did take upon 
Himself our poverty and infirmity, for his 
sickness and poverty be as it were a mirror 
unto us wherein we may look and with pity 
perceive the sickness and poverty of our Lord 
Jesus Christ." 



XXXVIIL-Of the New AT another time 
Testament that he made when he was sojourn- 
be given to a poor woman, j at s> M of 
the mother of two i T ,1 r> 

brethren. the Llttle Portlon 

a certain woman 

old and poor that had two sons in the 
Religion came unto the place begging an 
alms of the Blessed Francis. 

Straightway the Blessed Francis said to 
brother Peter of Catana that was then 
Minister General : " Can we have aught to 
give this woman our mother ? M For the 
mother of any brother would he call his 
mother and mother of all the brethren. 
Brother Peter made answer unto him : 
"Nought is there in the house that we can 
give her ; " for she would fain have had such 
alms as that thereby she might sustain her body. 
"Howbeit in the church we have one only 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

New Testament wherein we read the lessons 
at matins." For at that time the brethren 
had no breviaries and not many psalters. 

The Blessed Francis therefore said unto 
him : " Give our mother the Testament so 
that she may sell it for her necessity. For 
firmly do I believe that it will be better 
pleasing to the Lord and to the Blessed Virgin 
than if we should read therein." And so he 
gave it her. For that may be said and 
written of him which is read in the blessed 
Job : " For pity came forth from his mother s 
womb and did with him wax great." 

Whence unto us that were with him, not 
only those things that we have understood 
from others as concerning his charity and 
pity toward the brethren and other poor men, 
but even those things that we have seen with 
our eyes, full long would it be and full uneath 
either to write or to tell. 



Saint Francis of Assisi 



THE FOURTH PART, OF HOLY 
HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE 
IN HIMSELF AND IN THE 
BRETHREN, 

XXXIX, And first how THAT he might 
he did resign the office of observe the virtue of 
superior and appointed hol humilit some 
brother Peter of Catana f J /5 r 

Minister General. f , ew years . after 

nis conversion, 

in a certain Chapter before the brethren, he 
did resign the office of superior, saying : 
" Henceforward am I dead unto you, but see 
here brother Peter of Catana, unto whom I 
and all you will be obedient." And prostrat 
ing himself upon the ground, he did promise 
obedience and reverence unto him. 

All the brethren wept thereat, and exceeding 
great sorrow did wring forth full sore lamen 
tation, to wit, when they saw themselves in a 
manner made orphans to so great a father. 
But the blessed father, lifting up his eyes 
toward heaven and joining his hands, said : 
" Lord, unto Thee do I commend the family 
that hitherto Thou hast committed unto me. 
And now, O Lord most sweet, on account of 
those infirmities whereof Thou wottest, being 
unable to have the care thereof, I do commend 
65 E 



Saint Francis of Assist 

the same unto the ministers, the which in the 
day of judgment shall be held answerable 
before Thee, O Lord, in case any brother 
shall perish through their negligence or evil 
ensample or too harsh correction." 

He therefore thenceforward did remain 
subject even unto death, more humbly bearing 
him in all things than ever a one of the others. 

XL. How he gave up ANOTHER time he 
even his companions, gave up all his corn- 
being unwilling to have a panions to his vicar, 
special companion. saying : " I am un 

willing to seem singular in this prerogative of 
liberty, that I should have a special companion, 
but let the brethren assign me a companion from 
place to place as the Lord shall inspire them." 
Then he added : " I saw a blind man just now 
since that had but a whelp to guide him on his 
way, and fain would I seem no better off than 
he." For this was always his glory, that, laying 
aside all singularity and appearance of boasting, 
the virtue of Christ did ever abide in him. 



XLL That he did re. ONCE when he 
nounce his of f ice by reason was asked by a 
o bad superiors. certain brother 

wherefore he had cast off the brethren from 
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Saint Francis of Assisi 

his own care, and delivered them into strange 
hands, as though they did in no wise belong 
to him, he made answer : " My son, I do love 
the brethren the best I may, but and if they 
would follow my footsteps, verily, then should 
I love them all the better, nor should I make 
me strange unto them. For some there 
be among the number of the superiors, that 
do draw them aside to other things, setting 
before them the example of the elders, and 
holding my advice as of little account, but 
that which they themselves do and how they 
do it will be made clearer in the end." 

And a little afterward, when he was weighed 
down by exceeding infirmity, in the vehemence 
of his spirit, he sate him upright in his pallet, 
crying out and saying : " Who be they that 
have snatched my Religion and my brethren 
from my hands ? If I come to the General 
Chapter, I will show them of what kind is 
my will ! " 



XLIL That he did hum- THE Blessed Francis 

bly procure flesh-meats for was not as hamed to 

the sick and monished obtain flesh _ meats 

them to be patient. for a ^ brother 

among the public places of the cities, but he did 
admonish them that lay sick to bear any defi 
ciency therein patiently, and not to get up 
6? 



Saint Francis of Assist 

and make a grievance thereof whenever they 
could not "be fully satisfied. Whence in the 
first Rule he made be written thus : " I 
beseech my brethren that in their infirmities 
they be not wrath nor troubled either against 
God or against the brethren, and that they be 
not too solicitous to ask for medicines, nor too 
desirous to relieve this flesh that so soon must 
die, which is the enemy of the soul, but that 
they give thanks for all things and desire to be 
such as God would have them be, for them 
that God hath fore-ordained unto eternal life 
He teacheth by the stings of scourges and 
infirmities, even as He himself saith : * Them 
that I love do I rebuke and chasten. " 



XLIIL Of the humble IN the city of Rome 
answer of the Blessed what time those two 
Francis and Dominic when bright guiding- 
they were questioned to. {{ htg of the WQrld 
gether by the Cardinal as . . r>i 

So whether they would wlt >. the jessed 
that their brethren should * ncis and the 
be prelates in the Church, Blessed Dominic, 

were both together 

before the Lord Bishop of Ostia, that was 
afterward High PontifF, and each in turn 
did pour forth words of God as it were 
streams of honey, at the last the Lord 
Cardinal said unto them : " In the primitive 
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Saint Francis of Assisi 

Church, the pastors and prelates were poor 
men, glowing with the fervour of chanty 
and not of covetousness. Wherefore then 
do we not make of your brethren bishops and 
prelates that should prevail over all other both 
in word and ensample ? " 

Then arose between the Saints a humble 
and devout contention as to which should 
first make answer, not indeed a conten 
tion of precedence, but of deference on both 
sides, as if one should compel the other to 
make answer. But at length, the humility 
of Francis did win the victory that he should 
not be first to speak, and was victorious also 
over Dominic in that he did humbly obey by 
being the first to make answer. 

The Blessed Dominic, therefore, said in 
answer : " My lord, verily, unto high degree 
have my brethren been promoted if they 
would fain be learned in this matter ; and so 
far as in me lieth, never will I allow that they 
should obtain any high place of dignity." 

Then the Blessed Francis, bowing himself 
before the said Lord Cardinal, made answer : 
"My lord, my brethren be called brethren 
Minor, with the intent that they should not 
presume to become brethren Major, for their 
calling teacheth them to stand all on a level, 
and to follow the footsteps of Christ s 
humility, so that hereby they may at last be 
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Saint Francis of Assisi 

exalted above others in regard to the Saints. 
Wherefore, and you would that they should 
bring forth fruit in the Church of God, hold 
them and keep them in the condition of their 
calling, and if it be that they shall climb up 
on high, thrust them down by force into the 
plain, and never allow them to rise up to any 
preferment." 

These were the answers of the holy men, 
and when the replies on both sides were ended, 
the Lord Bishop of Ostia, greatly edified 
thereby, did give exceeding great thanks to 
God. 

And as the twain departed together, the 
Blessed Dominic begged the Blessed Francis" 
that he would deign to give him the cord 
wherewith he was girded. The Blessed 
Francis did out of humility refuse, even as 
the other had begged it out of charity. But 
the happy devotion of him that asked did win 
the day, and the cord of the Blessed Francis 
that he received as by violence of charity, did 
the Blessed Dominic gird on under his habit, 
and ever thereafter did devoutly wear. 

At length the one did place his hands 
between the hands of the other, and each did 
most sweetly commend him to each in mutual 
farewell greeting. And S. Dominic said 
unto S. Francis : " Brother Francis, I would 
that thy Religion and mine should be made 
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Saint Francis of Assisi 

one, and that we should live in the Church 
under equal conditions." At last, when they 
parted asunder, the one from the other, the 
Blessed Dominic said unto many of them 
that stood by : " Of a truth I say unto you 
that all the Religious ought to imitate this 
holy man Francis, so absolute is the perfection 
of his holiness." 



XLIV. -That, as a fotm- FROM the beginning 
dation of humility, he o f his conversion 
would that all the brethren the Blessed Francis 





ttet ers! "* b X G d S 

ance, as a wise 

builder, did lay his foundations upon a firm 
rock, to wit, upon the exceeding great 
humility and poverty of the Son of God, 
calling his Religion that of brethren Minor 
out of his passing humility. Whence, at the 
beginning of the Religion, he would that the 
brethren should abide in the hospitals of the 
lepers to wait upon them, and there lay the 
foundation of holy humility. For sithence 
that both gentle and simple did come into 
the Order, among other things that were 
declared unto them, it was^ said that needs 
must they humbly be as servants unto the 
lepers and abide in their houses ; as is con 
tained in the first Rule : " Willing to have 
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Saint Francis of Assisi 

nought under heaven save only holy poverty, 
whereby they are nourished in this world by 
bodily and spiritual food, and in the world to 
come shall obtain their heavenly heritage." 
And thus did he found himself, both for 
himself and for others, upon an exceeding 
great humility and poverty, forasmuch as 
being one of most account in the Church of 
God, he did choose and will to be an underling 
not only in the Church but even among his 
brethren. May this lowliness in his thought 
and his desire be his highest exaltation in the 
sight of God and man ! 



XLVT.-That o all his WHEN he preached 

good words and works he to t h e people in 

would that the honour Rieti in the p iazza 

should be attributed to God of ^ ^ SQ soQn 

as his preaching 

was ended, forthwith rose up the Bishop of the 
city, a man verily discreet and spiritual, and 
saith unto the people : "Our Lord from the 
beginning sithence that He planted and builded 
up His Church, hath ever enlumined her by 
holy men that by word and ensample might 
cause her to flourish, wherefore now in this 
last hour hath He enlumined her by this poor 
and despised and unlettered man Francis. 
And for this be ye bound to love and worship 
72 



Saint Francis of Asstsl 

the Lord, and to take heed that ye sin not, for 
not on such wise dealeth He with every nation." 

And when he had made an end of these 
words, the Bishop came down from the place 
where he had been preaching, and went into 
the church of the bishopric. Unto whom 
the Blessed Francis drawing nigh, did bow 
himself before him, falling at his feet, and 
said : " In truth I say unto you, my lord 
Bishop, that no man hath ever done me so 
great honour in this world as have you this 
day, for others say : c This is a holy man, 
attributing the glory and the holiness to me, 
and not to the Creator, but you, as he that is dis 
creet, have separated the precious from the vile." 

For when the Blessed Francis was praised 
and said to be a saint, he made answer unto 
such discourses, saying : " As yet feel I no 
assurance I may not fall away and have sons and 
daughters, for in whatsoever hour the Lord 
should take away from me His treasure that 
He hath commended unto me, what else would 
remain unto me save only body and soul that 
even infidels have ? Yea, rather ought I to 
believe that, if the Lord had granted to a robber 
or a paynim so great blessings as He hath unto 
me, more faithful than I would they have been 
unto the Lord. For, whereas in a picture of 
the Lord and the Blessed Virgin painted upon 
wood the Lord is honoured and the Blessed 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

Virgin also, yet natheless do not the wood 
and the painting attribute aught unto them 
selves. And in likewise is the servant of God 
in some sort a picture of God, wherein God 
is honoured by reason of His goodness, yet 
ought he to attribute nought as unto himself, 
inasmuch as in the sight of God less is he 
than the wood and the picture ; yea, he is 
stark nought. Wherefore unto God alone is 
the glory and the honour to be rendered, but 
unto himself only shame and tribulation so 
long as he liveth in the midst of the miseries 
of this world." 

XLVL That even until BEING minded to 
his death he was fain to persevere even to the 
have one o his com death in perfect hu- 
panions as warden, and to m jij ty an d subjec- 
live in subjection. tion, long before 

his death he said unto the Minister General : 
" I would that thou shouldst commit thy 
wardership over me to one of my companions, 
whom I may obey in thy stead, for such is the 
benefit of obedience that I would thou shouldst 
ever abide with me, both in life and death." 

And thenceforward, even unto his death, 

had he one of his companions as his warden, 

whom he did obey in the stead of the Minister 

General. Yea, on a time he said unto his 

74 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

companions : u This grace among others 
hath the Lord conferred upon me, that I 
would as diligently obey a novice that hath 
only to-day entered Religion, had he been 
assigned me for my warden, as him that is 
foremost and ancient in life and in the Reli 
gion. For he that is subject ought not to 
look upon him that is set over him as a man, 
but as God, for whose sake he is made subject 
unto him." 

Afterwards he said : " None having autho 
rity is there in all the world that is so feared 
by his subjects, as the Lord would make me 
be feared, if so I would, by my brethren. But 
this grace hath the Lord granted me, that I 
am minded to be content with all, as he that 
is Minor in Religion." 

But we that were with him have seen this 
with our eyes, even as he that doth here bear 
witness how, when certain of the brethren did 
not satisfy him in his necessities, or said some 
word to him such as a man is apt to be offended 
thereat, straightway he went to prayer, and 
when he came back he was unwilling to 
remember him of aught, nor ever did he say : 
"Such an one hath not satisfied me," or 
" Such an one spake unto me such a word." 
And thus persevering in such wise, the nearer 
he drew nigh unto death, by so much the 
more was he heedful to consider how best he 
75 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

could live and die in all humility and poverty 
and in all perfection of virtues. 

XLVIL-Of the perfect THE most holy 
manner of obedience that father would 
he taught* , . 

say unto his 

brethren: :c My best-beloved brethren, fulfil 
my injunction at the first word, and wait not 
for what is said unto you to be repeated. 
Argue not nor be ye judges of the injunction, 
for nought is there impossible therein, seeing 
that, even if it were that I should command 
you aught beyond your strength, yet holy 
obedience will never be lacking in strength." 

XLVIIL-How he spake ON a time this was 
f the perfectly obedient what he si hed forth 

d"a d^boJ; ^ f before his com- 

panions : " Scarce is 

there one Religious in the world that doth 
rightly obey his superior." 

Straightway the companions said unto him : 
;< Tell us, father, what is the perfect and the 
highest obedience?" And he, by way of 
answer, described one truly and perfectly 
obedient under the figure of a dead man, as 
thus : " Take a lifeless body and set it where 
you please. Ye will see that it resenteth not 
76 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

being moved, nor changeth its position, nor 
crieth out when it is let go. If that it be set 
upon a throne, it looketh not toward the 
highest, but the lowest. If it be clad in 
purple, then is it doubly wan. This is the 
truly obedient, that asketh no question where 
fore he should be moved, careth not where he 
is placed, urgeth not that he should be changed 
elsewhither. Promoted to office, he holdeth his 
wonted humility ; and the more he is honoured, 
the more he thinketh him unworthy." 

Obediences purely and simply enjoined, not 
asked for, he called holy obedience. But the 
highest obedience, the obedience wherein flesh 
and blood have nought of their own, he believed 
to be that wherein, by divine inspiration, men 
do go among the infidels either for the profit 
of their neighbours or for the desire of martyr 
dom, yea, and to ask for this obedience he 
deemed to be right acceptable unto God. 



XLIX. That it is a peril- THE blessed father 
ous thing too lightly to thought it seldom ad- 
order a brother to do aught yisable that an order 
on his obedience," and should bg . n tQ a 
also not to obey an order , , , . 

thus given. Bother on his 

obedience, for that 

a weapon to be used only in a last necessity 

ought not to be launched in the first instance. 

77 



Saint Francis of Assist 

"The hand," saith he, "should not be too ready 
to grasp the sword." On the other hand, he 
would say : " He that hasteneth not to obey 
an order given on his obedience neither feareth 
God nor reverenceth man," so long, to wit, 
as he hath no necessary cause for tarrying. 

Nought is more true, for what else is the 
power of command in one that giveth order 
rashly but a sword in the hand of a madman ? 
And again, what case is more hopeless than 
that of a Religious who doth neglect and 
despise his obedience ? 



L. How he made answer CERTAIN of the * 

to the brethren that would brethren said unto 

persuade him to petition the Blessed Francis : 

for a privilege that they Fath seest thou 
might beallowedto preach > fi 

freely. 

at times do not allow 

us to preach, and many days do they make us 
stand idle in a district or ever we be able to 
announce the word of the Lord. Better were 
it that thou shouldst obtain from the lord Pope 
a privilege in this matter, seeing that it would 
be for the salvation of souls." 

Unto whom he made answer rebuking them 

sore, and saying : " Ye brethren Minor, ye 

know not the will of God, nor will ye allow 

me to convert the whole world as God willeth ; 

78 



Saint Francis of Assist 

for I am minded first of all to convert the 
prelates by holy humility and reverence, so 
that when they shall see our holy life and our 
humble reverence toward them, they shall ask 
you to preach and convert the people, and call 
them together to hear your preaching better 
than your privileges that will only lead you 
on to pride. And if it be that ye hold ye 
aloof from all covetousness and persuade the 
people to render the churches their due, they 
themselves will beseech you to hear the con 
fessions of their people, albeit hereof ought ye 
to take no heed, inasmuch as so only they be 
converted they will right eath find confessors 
for themselves. 

"As for me, I am fain to have this privi 
lege of the Lord, that never may I have any 
privilege from man, save only the privilege to 
do reverence unto all, and to convert mankind 
through obedience to our holy Rule rather by 
ensample than by word." 



LL Of the manner that THE Blessed Francis 
all the brethren then held did maintain that the 
in reconciling them one to brethren Minor were 
another whensoever one r . u T j 

should have given offence SC , nt f , the **** m 
to another, these last days to 

show ensamples of 

life to them that were covered round about 
79 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

by the darkness of their sins. He would say 
that he was fulfilled of the sweetest smells and 
anointed with the virtue of precious ointment 
whensoever he heard the brave deeds of the 
holy brethren that were scattered about the 
world. 

One day it fell out that a certain brother 
did fling forth words of insult against another 
in the presence of a nobleman of the island of 
Cyprus. But when he that did this perceived 
that his brother was somewht troubled thereby, 
he was forthwith seized with such desire to 
do vengeance on himself that he took of the 
dung of an ass and did thrust the same into 
his own mouth, grinding it with his teeth, 
and saying : " Eat thou of the dung, thou 
tongue that didst shed the venom of wrath 
upon my brother." But when the nobleman 
saw him do thus, he was stricken with amaze 
ment and went his way greatly edified, and 
from that time forth did dispose himself and 
all that he had according to the will of the 
brethren. 

This therefore did all the brethren observe 
as of wont, that if one of them had uttered a 
word of injury or offence against another, he 
did straightway without tarrying prostrate 
him on the ground and kiss the foot of him 
he had offended and did humbly ask his 
pardon. The holy father did exult in such 
80 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

things whensoever he heard that his sons did 
of themselves show forth ensamples of holiness, 
and did load those brethren with blessings 
most worthy of all acceptation that did in 
word or work bring sinners to the love of 
Christ, for in the zeal for souls wherewith he 
himself was wholly fulfilled he would that his 
sons should show them true by their likeness 
to himself. 

LIL-How Christ did ON a time our Lord 
make complaint to Brother J esus Christ said 
Leo, the companion of the unto brother L 
Blessed Francis, as con* ., . 

cerningtheingratitudeand J e Companion of 
pride of the brethren. the Blessed Fran 

cis : " Brother Leo, 

I lament over the brethren." Unto whom 
brother Leo made answer : u Wherefore, 
Lord ? " And the Lord answered : " For 
three things : to wit, that they acknow 
ledge not my blessings that I do so largely 
and bountifully confer upon them, as thou 
knowest, albeit they sow not neither do they 
reap. Also for that all day do they murmur 
and are idle, and also for that they do oftentimes 
provoke one another to wrath and return not 
to their love and forgive not the injury they 
have received." 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

LHL How he made an* WHILST that he was 

swer humbly and truly to abiding at Siena, 

a certain doctor of the there came unto him 

Order of Preachers that a Crtain doctor of 

did ask him concerning a d theol of 

word of Scripture. ~ 

the Order of 

Preachers, a man truly humble and right 
spiritual. And when he and the Blessed 
Francis had discoursed together for some 
little time on the words of the Lord, the 
master asked of him concerning that word 
of Ezekiel : " If thou speakest not to warn 
the wicked from his wicked way, his soul 
will I require at thine hand." For he said : 
"Many, good father, do I know that be* 
in mortal sin, unto whom I speak not to warn 
them from their wicked way. Will their 
souls be required at my hand ? " 

Unto whom the Blessed Francis humbly 
said that he was a simple man and that there 
fore it was needful rather that he should be 
taught of him than that he should make 
answer as to the meaning of the Scrip 
ture. Whereupon the master added humbly : 
" Brother, albeit that I have heard of sundry 
wise men the exposition of this word, yet 
gladly would I learn your understanding 
hereof." The Blessed Francis said therefore : 
"If it be that the word is to be understood 
generally, I take it in such wise as that the 
82 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

servant ot God ought so to burn and shine in 
his life and holiness in himself as by the 
ensample of his light and by the tongue ot 
his holy conversation he may be a rebuke 
unto all the wicked. Thus, I say, the bright 
ness of his light and the sweet smell of his 
good name will be a warning to all to forsake 
their wicked way." 

The doctor, therefore, very greatly edified, 
at his departure thence said unto the com 
panions of the Blessed Francis : "My brethren, 
the theology of this man, upborne by purity 
and contemplation, is as a flying eagle, but our 
learning doth crawl upon its belly over the 
earth." 



LIV. Of humility and ALBEIT the Blessed 
keeping peace with the Francis would that 
dergy * his sons should be 

at peace with all men, and behave them as 
little ones to the whole world, yet did he 
teach them by word and show them by en- 
sample that they should be more especially 
humble towards the clergy. 

For he would say : " We are sent to suc 
cour the clergy for the salvation of souls and 
whatsoever in them is found wanting should 
be supplied by us. But let each receive his 
wages not according to the authority he holdeth, 
83 



Saint Francis of Assist 

but according to the work he doeth. Know 
ye this, brethren, that the gain of souls is 
most grateful unto God, and this gain we 
can better make with the peace of the clergy 
than by being at discordance with them. But 
if they hinder the salvation of the people, 
vengeance is God s and He will repay them 
in due time, wherefore be ye subject unto 
your superiors and take heed as far as in you 
lieth that no evil jealousy arise between you. 
If ye be sons of peace, ye shall win both 
clergy and people, and this is more acceptable 
unto God than to win the people only and to 
scandalise the clergy. "Cover," saith he, 
" their slips, and supply their many defects ;* 
and when ye have done this be ye therefore 
yourselves the more humble." 

LV. How he did humbly THE Blessed Fran- 
acquire the church of cis, seeing that it 
S* Mary of the Angels of was tne w iH o f 
the Abbot of S. Benedict Q od to mu l t iply 
of Assisi, and would that tfae number of the 
the brethren should ever ; fe fa said unto 
more humbly dwell ^ . J ^ 

beloved brethren 

and little sons, I see that it is the Lord s 

will to multiply us, whence seemeth it 

unto me a good and godly thing that we 

84 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

should acquire, either from the canons of 
S. Rufinus or from the Abbot of S. Benedict, 
some church wherein the brethren may say 
their Hours, and only have anigh thereunto 
some poor little house builded of wattle and 
dab wherein the brethren may rest and work, 
for this place is not decent, neither is it large 
enow for the brethren now that it is the Lord s 
will to multiply them, and more especially 
for that we have no church here wherein the 
brethren may say their Hours. And if any 
brother should die, it would not be decent to 
bury him here, nor in the church of the 
secular clergy." And this speech was pleasing 
unto all the brethren. 

He went therefore unto the Bishop of 
Assisi and propounded the words aforesaid in 
his presence. Unto whom said the Bishop : 
" Brother, no church have I that I am able to 
give you." And the canons made answer the 
same. 

Then went he to the Abbot of S. Benedict 
of Mount Subasio, and propounded unto him 
the same words. But the Abbot, moved to 
pity, took counsel with his monks, and, by the 
working of the divine grace and will, granted 
unto the Blessed Francis and his brethren 
the church of the Blessed Mary of the Little 
Portion, as the smallest and poorest of all the 
churches they had. And saith the Abbot 
8; 



Saint Francis of Assist 

unto the Blessed Francis : " Behold, brother, < 
we have granted that thou didst demand. 
But if it be that the Lord shall multiply this 
your congregation, we would that this place 
should be the head of all your places." 

And this speech pleased the Blessed Francis 
and his brethren, and the Blessed Francis did . 
rejoice exceedingly over the place that had 
been granted to the brethren, and most of all for 
that the name of the church was that of the 
Mother of Christ, and for that it was so small 
and poor a church, and, moreover, for that it 
was named " of the Little Portion," wherein j 
it was prefigured that it should be the head J 
and mother of the poor brethren Minor. For 
it was called " the Little Portion " inasmuch 
as the courtyard had been named of old the 
Little Portion. 

Whence the Blessed Francis said: "There 
fore did the Lord will that none other church 
should be granted unto the brethren, and that 
the first brethren at that time should not build 
a church of new, nor should have none other 
but this, forasmuch as herein was fulfilled a 
certain prophecy through the advent of the 
brethren Minor." And albeit it were poor, 
and is now destroyed, natheless of a long time 
did the men of the city of Assisi and of all the 
lordship thereof have great devotion unto that 
church, and greater yet have they to-day, and 
86 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

their devotion waxeth daily. Wherefore 
straightway, so soon as the brethren went 
thither to abide, the Lord did multiply their 
number day by day, and the sweet smell of 
their good name was marvellously spread 
abroad throughout all the Vale of Spoleto and 
through many parts of the world. But afore 
time it was called S. Mary of the Angels, for 
that, as it is said, the songs of angels were 
oftentimes heard there. 

And albeit the Abbot and monks did freely 
grant the same to the Blessed Francis and his 
brethren, yet did the Blessed Francis, as a 
wise and thrifty master, being minded that 
his house, to wit, the Religion, should be 
founded upon a firm rock, that is, upon an 
exceeding great poverty, send yearly to the 
said Abbot and his monks a basket-full of the 
little fishes that be called roaches yearly in token 
of great humility and poverty, for that the 
brethren had no place of their own, nor abode 
in any that was not in the demesne of some 
or other in such sort as that the brethren 
never had even the power of alienating the 
same in any manner. But when the brethren 
carried the little fishes to the monks yearly, 
they, by reason of the humility of the Blessed 
Francis that did this of his own free will, 
gave them a vessel full of oil. 

But we that were with the Blessed Francis 
8? 



Saint Francis of Assist 

do bear witness that he himself, with affirma 
tion of the word, did say of that church that 
therein was it revealed unto him for many 
were the prerogatives that the Lord did there 
make manifest unto him that, among all the 
churches of the world that the Blessed Virgin 
loved, none loved she with so abounding an 
affection as this. And on this account thence 
forth had he the greatest reverence and devo 
tion toward it, and, that the brethren might 
always have the memorial thereof in their 
hearts, at his death he made be written in his 
will that all the brethren should do likewise. 

For, about the time of his death, in the 
presence of the Minister General and others 
of the brethren, he said: "The place of 
S. Mary of the Little Portion I am minded 
to devise and leave to the brethren by will, so 
that it may be held by the brethren in the 
greatest devotion and reverence." 

The which, indeed, our ancient brethren 
did, for albeit the place were holy and pre- 
elect by Christ and the Glorious Virgin, 
yet did they preserve the holiness thereof by 
continual prayer and silence by day and night. 
And if at times they did talk after the term 
and establishment of the silence, they spake 
only with the greatest devotion and decency 
of things pertaining unto the praise of God 
and the salvation of souls. And if so it hap- 
88 



Saint Francis of Assist 

pened that any should begin to speak idle and 
useless words, albeit it was seldom that this 
did befall, forthwith was he corrected by 
another brother. 

Moreover, they did macerate their flesh by 
many fastings, by cold and nakedness, and by 
the labour of their hands. For many a time, 
to the intent that they might not stand idle, 
would they help poor men in their fields that 
did afterwards give them of their bread for the 
love of God. By these and other good deeds 
did they hallow the place and maintain them 
selves in holiness. But thereafter, by occasion 
of the brethren and of seculars assembling 
together to that place more than they had 
been wont, for that even the brethren be 
colder in prayer and in godly works and more 
lax, even to joining in idle talk and discourse 
of the news of this world, than they were 
wont to be, the place itself is not held in so 
great reverence and devotion as heretofore it 
wont to be, and as the first brethren would. 

When the Blessed Francis had spoken these 
words, forthwith he made an end thereof with 
great fervour, saying : " I will, therefore, that 
this place be always immediately under the 
power of the minister and servant General, to 
the intent that thence he may have the greater 
care and solicitude in providing therein for a 
good and holy family. Let clerks be chosen 
89 



Saint Francis of Assist 

of the better and more holy and more honour 
able of the brethren, and such as are in the 
whole Religion they that know best how to 
say the Office, to the end that not only lay 
folk, but other brethren also may see and hear 
them gladly, and with great devotion. And 
of the lay brethren, let holy men and discreet, 
humble and honourable be chosen to wait 
upon them. I will also that no person and 
no brother shall enter into that place save 
only the Minister General and they that wait 
upon him. And they shall not speak with 
any person save with the brethren that wait 
upon them and with the minister whensoever 
he shall visit them. I will in like wise that 
the brethren who serve them shall be bound 
not to speak idle words or of the news of this 
world unto them, or of any other things what 
soever, save such as may be of profit unto their 
souls. And, therefore, in especial is it my will 
that none enter into that place, so that they 
may the better maintain the purity and holi 
ness thereof, and that nought at all be said nor 
done in that place idly, but that the whole 
place be held pure and holy in hymns and 
praises to the Lord. 

"And when any of those brethren shall 

depart hence unto the Lord, I will that 

another holy brother, wheresoever he may be, 

be sent thither by the Minister General. For 

90 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

if it shall be hereafter that other brethren shall 
decline from purity and loyalty, I will that this 
blessed place be and remain for ever the mirror 
and good ensample of the whole Religion, and 
in some sort a candlestick before the throne ot 
God and before the Blessed Virgin burning 
evermore and shining. Wherefore, may God 
be gracious unto the shortcomings and faults 
of all the brethren, and ever preserve and pro 
tect this Religion, and this sapling of His own 
plantation." 



LVI. Of the humble ON a time when 

reverence he showed as he was sojourning 

concerning the sweeping at g. Mary of the 

o! churches and cleansing L itt i e p ort i on an( } 

them * the brethren as 

yet were few, the Blessed Francis went 
about throughout the towns and churches in 
the circuit of the lordship of Assisi warning 
and preaching unto men that they should do 
penance, and he carried a broom for sweeping 
the churches that were unclean, for the Blessed 
Francis was sore grieved whensoever he saw 
any church not so clean as he would have it. 
And for this cause, when he had made an end 
of preaching, he did always make all the 
priests that were present be assembled together 
in some place apart, lest he should be over- 
9 1 



Saint Francis of Assist 

heard of the laymen, and did preach unto 
them of the salvation of souls and particularly 
that they should be careful to keep clean the 
churches and altars and all things appertaining 
to the celebration of the divine mysteries. 



LVIL Of the country- Now when he went 

man that found him to a certain church 

sweeping a church, and Q f a v iH a g e j n tne 

after his conversion did l ordsh i p o f Assisi, he 
enter the Order and be" 

came a holy brother. be g an , to f T e P , the 

same humbly and to 

cleanse it, and straightway a report concerning 
him went forth through the whole village, for 
asmuch as he was gladly seen of the folk therein 
and yet more gladly heard. But when a certain 
countryman of marvellous simplicity that was 
ploughing in his field, John by name, did hear 
of it, he went unto him forthwith and found 
him sweeping the church humbly and de 
voutly. And saith he unto him : " Brother, 
give me the broom, for I have a will to help 
thee." And taking the broom into his hands 
he swept that which was left. 

And while they were sitting together, saith 
he to the Blessed Francis : " Brother, it is a 
long time now sithence that I had a will of 
serving God, and specially after that I heard 
the talk about thee and thy brethren, but I 
92 



Saint Francis of Assist 

knew not in what wise I could come unto 
thee. Now, therefore, for that it hath pleased 
the Lord I should see thee, I desire to do 
whatsoever shall please thee." 

The Blessed Francis, perceiving his devo 
tion, did exceedingly rejoice in the Lord, 
forasmuch as at that time he had but few 
brethren, and it seemed him that by the 
simplicity and purity of the man he ought 
to be a good Religious. But he said unto 
him : " Brother, if it be that thou art minded 
to be of our life and society, needs must thou 
strip thee of all those things that now thou 
mayst have without offence for thine own, 
and give them to the poor according to the 
counsel of the Holy Gospel, forasmuch as all 
my brethren that were able have done the 
same." 

When he heard this he went straightway 
to the field where he had left his oxen, and 
unyoked them, and led one thereof into the 
presence of the Blessed Francis, and said unto 
him : " Brother, so many years have I served 
my father and all them of my household, and 
albeit this be but a small portion of mine 
heritage, yet am I willing to accept this ox 
as my share and to give the same to the poor, 
as it shall seem thee best." But when his 
kinsmen and his brethren, that yet were little, 
saw how he was minded to leave them, all of 
93 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

his household began to weep so sore and to 
bewail them with voices so sorrowful that the 
Blessed Francis was moved unto compassion 
thereby, for the family was large and helpless. 
And the Blessed Francis saith unto them : 
" Make ready food for all of us, and let us eat 
thereof all together ; and weep not, for I will 
make ye right joyful." And forthwith they 
made ready and all did eat together with great 
gladness. 

After meat, the Blessed Francis said : 
" This your son is minded to serve God, and 
thereof ought ye not to grieve, but rather to 
rejoice exceedingly. For unto you, not only 
as toward God but as toward this world, is it 
counted for a great honour and for the profit 
both of souls and bodies that God should be 
honoured of one of your own flesh, and all 
our brethren shall be your sons and brethren. 
And, for that he is a creature of God and is 
minded to serve his Creator, whom to serve 
is to reign as king, I cannot and I ought not 
to yield him up to you, but to the intent that 
ye may have some consolation for him, I will 
that he make over that which is his own in 
this ox unto you, as unto the poor, albeit, 
according to the Gospel, he ought to give it 
unto others of the poor." And all they were 
comforted in the words of the Blessed Francis, 
and most of all did they rejoice of the ox that 
94 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

was yielded up unto them, seeing that they 
were exceeding poor. 

And, for that pure and holy simpleness in 
himself and others was right well pleasing 
unto the Blessed Francis, he clad him in the 
habit of the Religion and took him with him 
as his companion. For of so great simpleness 
was he that he held himself bound to do in 
all things as the Blessed Francis did. 

Hence, when the Blessed Francis stayed in 
any church or in any place to pray, he also 
would look at him and straitly conform him 
self unto all his acts and gestures. Insomuch 
as if it were that the Blessed Francis did bend 
his knees, or lift up his hands to Heaven, or 
spit, or sighed, he also did all these things in 
like wise. But when the Blessed Francis had 
given thought to this matter, he with great 
cheerfulness did begin to reprove him some 
what as concerning these and the like simple 
ways. Unto whom he made answer : " Father, 
I did promise to do all the things that thou 
dost, wherefore needs must I conform me 
unto thee in all things." And the Blessed 
Francis did marvel and marvellously rejoice 
when he saw in him so great purity and 
simplicity. 

Howbeit thereafter began he to make so 
great progress as that the Blessed Francis 
and the other brethren did very greatly 
95 



Saint Francis of Assisl 

marvel at his perfection, and after some little 
space he died in that same holy proficiency in 
godliness. Whence afterward the Blessed 
Francis, with great cheerfulness ot mind and 
body, would tell stones among the brethren 
of his conversation, giving him the name, not 
of brother, but of John the Saint. 



LVIII. How he did Now when the 

punish himself by eating Blessed Francis re 

in the same dish with a tumed to the church 

leper for that he had done of thfi Blessed 

shame unto him. A T r , T . , 

Mary of the Little 

Portion, he found brother James the Simple 
with a certain leper that had many sores. 
For the Blessed Francis had commended this 
leper and all other lepers unto him, forasmuch 
as he was, as it were, their leech and did wil 
lingly tent and cleanse and bind up their 
wounds, for at that time the brethren abode 
in the hospitals of the lepers. 

The Blessed Francis therefore said unto 
brother James, as if reproving him : " Thou 
shouldst not lead these Christians abroad, for 
it is not decent, neither for thee nor for them." 
For albeit he would that he should serve them, 
yet was he unwilling that he should lead them 
that were greatly afflicted beyond the hospital, 
forasmuch as men are wont to abhor the 






Saint Francis of Assisi 

sight of such exceedingly, and brother James 
was so simple that he went with them out of 
the hospital as far as the church of S. Mary 
of the Little Portion as if he had been going 
thither with the brethren. Now the Blessed 
Francis called the lepers themselves brother- 
Christians. 

And when he had spoken these words, the 
Blessed Francis did straightway reproach him 
self, thinking that the leper should have been 
shamed by the reproof that he had spoken 
unto brother James. And being fain to make 
satisfaction both to God and the leper, he told 
his fault to brother Peter of Catana that was 
then Minister General, and saith he : " I 
would that thou confirm unto me the penance 
whereof I have made choice to do for this 
default, and that thou wilt in no wise con 
tradict me herein." Who made answer : 
"Brother, whatsoever pleaseth thee, that 
do ! " For brother Peter did so reverence 
and fear him that he did not presume to con 
tradict him, albeit thereby was he often him 
self afflicted. 

Then said the Blessed Francis : " Let this 
be my penance, to wit, that I eat together in 
one dish with my brother-Christian." When, 
therefore, the Blessed Francis sat at table with 
the leper and the other brethren, a dish was 
set between the Blessed Francis and the leper. 
97 G 



Saint Francis of Assist 

Now he was all covered with sores and loath 
some, and in especial had he his fingers drawn 
together and bleeding wherewith he took the 
pieces out of the dish, in suchwise that when 
he set them in the dish the blood and matter 
from his fingers ran down thereinto. And 
when brother Peter and the rest of the brethren 
saw this, greatly were they grieved thereby, 
but nought durst they say by reason of their 
fear and reverence of the holy father. 

He that saw this did write the same, and 
beareth witness of these things. 



LIX. How he put devils ON a time the 
to flight by words of Blessed Francis 
humility. went to the church 

of the Blessed Peter at Bovara nigh the walled 
town of Trevi in the Vale of Spoleto, and 
with him went brother Pacifico that in the 
world was called the King of Verse and the 
Courtly Doctor of Singers. Now the church 
was deserted. Wherefore said the Blessed 
Francis to the Blessed Pacifico : " Go 
back to the hospital of the lepers, for I am 
minded to remain here alone to-night, and 
to-morrow early in the morning come back 
to me." Now whilst that he abode there 
alone and had said Complines and other 
prayers, he was fain to rest and to go to sleep, 
98 



Saint Francis of Assist 

but could not. And his spirit began to be 
afeared and to feel devilish suggestions, and 
forthwith he went out of the church and did 
cross himself, saying : " On behalf of God 
Almighty, I bid you devils that you exercise 
upon my body all that it hath been given unto 
you to do by the Lord Jesus Christ, forasmuch 
as all things am I ready to undergo ! For 
sithence as that the greatest enemy I have is 
mine own body, do you avenge me of mine 
adversary and most bitter foe ! " And straight 
way those suggestions did cease altogether, 
and going back to the place where he had laid 
him down, he went to sleep in peace. 



LX. Of the vision of WHEN the morrow 
brother Pacifico that he came, brother Paci- 
saw, and how he heard fi co came back unto 
that the seat of Lucifer fa j Th fil d 
was reserved for the ^ . ^ 

humble Francis. Francis was then 

standing before the 

altar in prayer. And brother Pacifico 
waited for him without the choir pray 
ing in like wise before a crucifix. And 
when he began to pray, he was lifted up and 
snatched away into Heaven, whether in the 
body or out of the body God only knoweth, 
and saw in Heaven many seats, whereof he 
saw one higher than the rest, and glorious 
99 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

beyond them all, shining and made fair with 
every precious stone. And marvelling at the 
beauty thereof, he began to think within him 
self whose seat it should be. And straightway 
he heard a voice saying unto him : " This 
seat was the seat of Lucifer, and in his stead 
shall the humble Francis sit herein." 

And when he had come back to himself, 
forthwith the Blessed Francis went without 
unto him, at whose feet the brother fell 
straightway with his arms set together after 
the manner of a cross, and conceiving him 
as already in Heaven abiding in that chair, 
said unto him : " Father, forgive me, and 
beseech the Lord that He have mercy 
upon me and forgive me my sins ! " But 
stretching forth his hand, the Blessed Francis 
lifted him up and straightway knew that he 
had seen something in prayer. For he did 
seem all changed, and spake unto the Blessed 
Francis not as if he were still living in the 
flesh, but as already reigning in Heaven. 

But afterward, for that he was unwilling to 
tell the Blessed Francis of his vision, he began 
to speak words unto him, touching the matter 
as it were in a roundabout fashion, and among 
other things he said unto him : " How deemest 
thou of thyself, brother?" The Blessed 
Francis made answer and said unto him : 
" Meseemeth that I be the greatest sinner in 

100 



Saint Francis of Assist 

all the world." And straightway it was said 
unto the soul of brother Pacifico : " Hereby 
mayst thou know the truth of the vision thou 
hast seen, for whereas on account of his pride 
was Lucifer cast down from that throne, even 
so shall Francis on account of his humility 
deserve to be exalted and to sit therein." 



LXL How he made him Now on a time 
be haled naked with a w hen he was some- 
rope tied round his neck what recovered of a 
before the people. cemin sQre sickness 

that he had, it seemed him that his allowance of 
food in that sickness had somewhat exceeded, 
albeit he had eaten but little ; and rising up one 
day when as yet he was not free of his quartan 
fever, he made the people of the city of Assisi 
be called together in the Piazza for preaching. 
And when he had made an end of preaching, 
he bade the people that none should depart 
thence until such time as he should return 
unto them. Whereupon, entering into the 
church of the bishopric of S. Rufinus with 
many of the brethren and brother Peter of 
Catana, that was a canon of that Church and 
had been chosen first Minister General by the 
Blessed Francis, he told the same brother 
Peter, enjoining him on his obedience, with 
out contradiction to do that which he 
101 



Saint Francis of Assist 

should tell him to do. Brother Peter made 
answer unto him : " Brother, I neither can 
nor ought I to will or to do aught as concern 
ing me and thee other than as it shall please 
thee." Wherefore, putting off his habit, the 
Blessed Francis bade him tie a cord round his 
neck and hale him naked before the people as 
far as the place where he had been preaching. 
Another brother he bade take a dishful of 
ashes and go up to the place where he had 
preached, and when he was haled as far as that 
place, should cast the ashes over his face. 
But he did not obey him herein for the exceed 
ing pity and compassion wherewith he was 
moved towards him. 

And brother Peter taking the cord tied to 
his neck did hale him behind him as he had 
bidden him. Howbeit he himself did weep 
right sore, and the other brethren with him 
did shed tears of exceeding compassion and 
bitterness. 

And when he was thus led naked before 
the people as far as the place wherein he had 
preached, he said : " You and all that by mine 
ensample do leave the world behind and enter 
into the religion and life of the brethren, ye 
do all believe that I am a holy man, yet nathe- 
less do I confess unto God and unto you that 
in this sickness of mine I have eaten of flesh- 
meats and broths sodden of meat." And all 
102 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

as it were did begin to weep over him for 
exceeding pity and compassion, specially as it 
was then winter-time and the cold was exceed 
ing sore, and he was not yet free of the 
quartan fever. 

And smiting their bosoms they did accuse 
themselves saying : " If this saint, for just and 
manifest necessity, with so great shame of his 
body doth thus accuse himself whose life we 
know to be holy, and whom moreover by his 
exceeding abstinence and by the austerities 
that he hath done unto his body from the 
beginning of his conversion to Christ we do 
behold alive in the flesh that is as it were already 
dead before its time, what shall we wretched 
ones do that all the days of our life have lived 
and continually do live according to the desire 
of the flesh ? " 



LXII. How he would IN like manner at 

that any comforts he re- another time when 

ceived for his body should j^ fad eaten j n a 

be known to all, certain hermitage at 

the time of S. Martin s Lent, of cakes made 
with lard on account of his ailments that did 
render oil exceeding unwholesome, at the end of 
the Lent, when he was preaching to a crowd of 
folk, at the first word of his sermon he said 
unto them : " Ye come to me with great 
103 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

devoutness, believing me to be a saint, but I 
do confess unto God and unto you that this 
Lent I have eaten of cakes made with lard." 

Yea, moreover, well-nigh always when he 
had been eating with any laymen or some 
little bodily comfort was made for him by the 
brethren on account of his infirmities, straight 
way within the house and without, in the 
presence of the brethren that knew not 
thereof and of laymen, would he say openly, 
" I have eaten of such and such meats." For 
he had no mind to hide from men what was 
manifest to God. In like manner also, where 
soever and in the presence of whatsoever 
Religious or lay-folk, his spirit was moved to 
pride or vainglory, or to any wickedness, 
forthwith would he confess the same before 
them nakedly, without any cloak whatsoever. 

Whence once he said unto his companions : 
" In such wise am I fain to live in the wilder 
nesses and in other places wherein I sojourn, 
as if all men were looking upon me. For 
and if they take me to be a holy man, and I 
lead not the life that holy man beseemeth, 
then should I be a hypocrite." 

When, therefore, on account of an ailment 
of the spleen and a chill of the stomach, one 
of his companions that was his warden was 
minded to sew on the inner side of his habit 
a little bit of fox-skin nigh the spleen and 
104 






Saint Francis of Assisi 

stomach, particularly as the cold was great, 
the Blessed Francis made answer unto him : 
" If thou wouldst that I should have fox-skin 
on the inner side my habit, make be set with 
out upon the habit a shred of the same skin 
so as that thereby men may know that I have 
fox-skin within also." And this he made be 
done, but full little did he wear it, albeit it 
were greatly necessary unto him. 



LXIIL How he did WHEN* he was going 
straightway accuse himself throuo-h the city of 
of the vain glory he had in Assis f a certain poor 
giving alms. M woman did ask an 

alms of him for the love of God, and forth 
with he gave her the mantle that he had on 
his back, but straightway without tarrying he 
did confess before them that were following 
the vainglory that he had therein. 

And so many other ensamples like unto these 
have we seen and heard of his absolute humi 
lity, that we who were conversant with him 
cannot set forth the same, neither in word 
nor in writing. But to this did the Blessed 
Francis pay the chiefest and highest heed, 
that never should he be a hypocrite before 
God, albeit on account of his often infirmi 
ties, an allowance beyond the ordinary was 
a necessity to him, yet did he ever take 
105 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

thought to show in himself a good ensample 
to the brethren and to others, wherefore 
would he endure every privation that he might 
take away from all every occasion of murmur 
ing. 



LXIV. How he described WHEN the time 
the state of perfect humility o f the Chapter 
in his own person. w a s drawing 

nigh the Blessed Francis said to his com 
panion : " Meseemeth I am not a brother 
Minor save I be in the state that I shall tell 
thee. Behold, the brethren with great devo 
tion invite me to the Chapter, and moved by 
their devotion I do go unto the Chapter with 
them. And when they be gathered together 
they beseech me that I shall announce unto 
them the Word of God and preach among 
them. And rising up I preach unto them as 
the Holy Spirit shall have taught me. Now 
suppose, when the preaching is ended, that 
all should cry out against me, c We will not 
have thee to reign over us, for thou art not 
eloquent, as is befitting, and too simple art 
thou, and an idiot, and we be sore ashamed 
to have a superior over us so simple and 
despised, wherefore henceforth presume not 
to be called our superior ! And so they cast 
me out with contumely and disgrace. Me- 
106 



Saint Francis of Assist 

seemeth I am no brother Minor if I rejoice 
not when they should thus hold me of no 
account and cast me out with shame, being 
unwilling that I should be their superior, 
as gladly as when they venerate and honour 
me, the profit and advantage to themselves 
in either case being equal. For if I am glad 
when they do exalt and honour me on account 
of their own profit and devoutness, wherein 
nevertheless may be peril to my soul, much 
more ought I to be glad and joyful of the profit 
and salvation of my soul when they speak 
evil against me, wherein is the certain gain 
of a soul." 



L XV. How he vras WHEN the Chapter 
minded to go humbly into was ended wherein 
distant parts in like man- many brethren were 
ner as he had sent other sent tQ cemin 
brethren, and how he , r 

taught the brethren to go . be j" d Sea > 
humbly and devoutly the Blessed Francis, 
through the world, remaining with 

certain of the 

brethren, said unto them : " My best be 
loved brethren, meet it is that I should be 
the pattern and ensample of all the brethren. 
If, therefore, I have sent the brethren into 
far-off parts to undergo travail and shame, 
hunger and thirst, and other necessities, it is 
107 



Saint Francis of Assist 

only just, and holy obedience doth require, 
that I in like manner should go to some 
distant province, to the intent that the 
brethren should the more patiently endure 
their adversities when they shall hear that I 
also undergo the same. Go, therefore, and 
pray the Lord that He grant me to make 
choice of the province that shall be most to 
His praise and the profit of souls and a good 
ensample of our Religion." 

For it was the wont of the most holy father 
when he was minded to go to some province, 
first to pray the Lord, and to send brethren 
to pray that the Lord would direct his heart 
to go thither where it was best pleasing unto 
Him. 

The brethren, therefore, went to pray, and 
when they had made an end of praying they 
came back unto him. And straightway with 
joy he said unto them : " In the name of our 
Lord Jesus Christ and of the Glorious Virgin 
Mary and of all saints, I choose the province 
of France, wherein is a Catholic folk, and the 
more for that among other Catholics they do 
manifest a special reverence toward the Body 
of Christ, the which is right grateful unto 
me, wherefore with them will I most willingly 
hold converse." 

For the Blessed Francis had so great 
reverence and devotion toward the Body of 
108 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

Christ, that he would it should be written in 
the Rule that the brethren in the provinces 
wherein they sojourned should have a great 
care and solicitude in this matter, and should 
admonish clerics and priests that they should 
set aside the Body of Christ in an honourable 
and decent place, the which, if they neglected 
to do, the brethren were to do it for them. 

He would, moreover, it should be set in the 
Rule, that wheresoever the brethren should 
find the names of the Lord and the words 
whereby the Body of the Lord is made not 
well and honourably put into safe keeping, 
they themselves should collect the same and 
put them away worshipfully, honouring God 
in His words. And albeit these things were 
not written in the Rule, for that it seemed 
not good to the ministers that this should be 
an injunction to the brethren, yet in his will 
and in other of his writings he was minded to 
leave to fche brethren his will in these matters. 

At one time, indeed, he was minded to 
send certain brethren through all the provinces, 
that should take with them a number of pyxes 
fair and clean, and wheresoever they should 
find the Body of the Lord dishonourably set 
away, they should place the same with all 
honour in these pyxes. He desired, more 
over, to send certain other brethren throughout 
all the provinces with good and fair moulds of 
109 



Saint Francis of Assist 

iron for shaping of the Hosts fair and 
cleanly. 

Widen, therefore, the Blessed Francis did 
choose those brethren that he wished to take 
with him, he said unto them : " In the name 
of the Lord go ye two and two by the way 
humbly and worshipfully, and, above all, with 
strait silence from early morning until after 
tierce, praying unto the Lord in your hearts, 
and let idle words and useless be not so much 
as named amongst you. For albeit that ye 
walk abroad, let your conversation be not less 
humble and beseeming than if ye were in a 
hermitage or a cell. For we, wheresoever we 
be, or whithersoever we may walk, have always 
the cell with us. For brother Body is our 
cell, and the soul is the hermit that abideth 
within the cell to pray to the Lord and 
meditate upon Him. Whence if it be that the 
soul abideth not quietly in her cell, of right 
little avail is the cell of the Religious builded 
with hands." 

And when he had come as far as Florence 
he found there my Lord Ugolino, Bishop of 
Ostia, that was afterward Pope Gregory, who, 
when he had heard from the Blessed Francis 
that he was minded to go into France, forbade 
him to go thither, saying : " Brother, it is 
my will thou go not beyond the mountains, 
for many prelates there be that gladly would 
no 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

hinder the good work of thy Religion in the 
Court of Rome. But I and the other 
Cardinals that love the Religion will right 
gladly protect and help the same if thou wilt 
abide within the circuit of this province." 

And the Blessed Francis saith unto him : 
" My lord, great shame is it unto me, seeing 
that I have sent others my brethren into 
provinces far away, if that I myself remain in 
these parts, and partake not in the tribulations 
that they for the Lord s sake are about to 
endure." 

But the Bishop said unto him, as it were 
reproving him : " Wherefore hast thou sent 
thy brethren so far away to die of hunger and 
to suffer other tribulations ? " 

The Blessed Francis made answer unto 
him with great fervour and in the spirit of 
prophecy, saying : " My lord, weenest thou 
that the Lord hath sent the brethren for the 
sake of these provinces only ? Yea, I tell thee 
of a truth that God hath chosen and sent the 
brethren for the profit and salvation of the 
souls of all the men of this world ; not alone 
in the lands of the faithful, but even in the 
lands of the infidel shall they be received, and 
many be the souls that they shall win." 

And the Lord Bishop of Ostia did marvel 
at his words, affirming that he spake the 
truth, yet even so would he not allow him to 
in 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

go into France ; but the Blessed Francis sent 
thither brother Pacifico with many other 
brethren. Howbeit, he himself went back to 
the Vale of Spoleto. 

LXVI. How he taught UNTO a certain 

the brethren to win the hermitage of the 

souls of certain robbers by brethren above the 

humility and charity. BorgQ San Sepokro 

came robbers on a time for bread, that did hide 
them in the woods and rob them that passed that 
way. Certain of the brethren said that it was 
not a good thing to give them alms, but others 
out of compassion did give for the sake of^ 
moving them to repentance. 

In the meanwhile the Blessed Francis came 
to that place whom the brethren did ask 
whether it were a good thing to give them 
alms, and the Blessed Francis said unto them : 
" And ye will do as I shall tell you, I trust in 
the Lord that ye shall win their souls. Go 
ye therefore and procure good bread and good 
wine and carry them into the forest wherein 
they abide, and cry out saying : Brother 
robbers, come unto us, for that we be brethren, 
and bring you good bread and good wine ! 
They will come incontinent. Then spread 
ye a napkin on the ground and set the bread 
and wine thereon, and serve the same humbly 

112 



Saint Francis of Assist 

and cheerfully until that they have eaten. 
Howbeit, after that they have eaten, ye shall 
speak unto them of the Word of God, and at 
the last ye shall prefer this first petition for 
the love of God, to wit, that they do promise 
you not to murder nor do no man any hurt to 
his person. For and ye shall ask them every 
thing at once, they will not hearken unto you, 
but so much will they promise ye forthwith 
for the sake of your humility and charity. 

" Then, on another day, on account of their 
good promise, carry unto them along with the 
bread and wine, eggs and cheese, and serve 
until they shall have eaten. And when they 
have eaten thereof ye shall say unto them : 
Why stand ye here all the day, to die of 
hunger and suffer so many hardships, and 
therewithal to do so many evil deeds in will 
and in work, whereby, save ye be converted 
unto the Lord, ye do destroy your own souls ? 
Better is it that ye serve the Lord, that shall 
bestow upon you in this world the things that 
be necessary to the body, and in the end shall 
save your souls. Then shall they be inspired 
of God and shall be converted for the sake of 
your humility and patience that ye have shown 
them." 

The brethren accordingly did all things as 
the Blessed Francis had told them, and the 
robbers by the grace and mercy of God did 

H H 



Saint Francis of Assist 

hearken unto them and did observe letter by 
letter and point by point all things whatsoever 
the brethren did humbly beseech them to do. 
Yea, by reason of the humility and familiarity 
of the brethren toward them, they did begin 
humbly to serve the brethren themselves, 
bearing wood on their shoulders as far as the 
hermitage, and, at the last certain of them did 
enter the Religion. Others moreover, con 
fessing their sins, did penance for those they 
had committed, promising in the hands of the 
brethren that they would thereafter live of the 
labour of their hands and never be guilty of the 
like again. 



LXVIL How hewas ON a time the 

beaten of devils and knew Blessed Francis 

thereby that it was better went tQ Rome tQ 

pleasing to God he should { fa j d fi . fa 

stay in poor and humble r ~ . 

places than with Car^ of Ostla > and after 

Finals. that he had stayed 

some days with him, 

he visited also the lord Leo, a Cardinal that was 
mightily devoted to the Blessed Francis. And 
for that it was then winter time and altogether 
unfit for walking by reason of the cold and 
wind and rain, he besought him that he would 
sojourn with him some days and take his 
victual from him as a poor man along with 
114 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

the other poor men that did eat daily in his 
house. 

Howbeit this he said for that he knew the 
Blessed Francis was minded always to be taken 
in as a poor man wheresoever he might be 
lodged, albeit the lord Pope and the Cardinal 
with the greatest reverence and devotion 
would have received him and reverenced him 
as a Saint. Moreover he added : " I will 
give thee a good house apart, wherein thou 
mayst pray and eat if thou wilt." 

Then brother Angelo Tancredi that was 
one of the twelve first brethren, who also was 
staying with the said Cardinal, said unto the 
Blessed Francis: "Brother, nigh hereby is a 
certain tower very roomy and remote wherein 
thou mayst dwell as in a hermitage." The 
which when the Blessed Francis saw, he was 
pleased therewithal, and coming back to the 
Cardinal said unto him : " My lord, haply I 
will remain with you for some days." 

And the lord Cardinal made great joy 
thereof. Brother Angelo therefore went and 
made ready a place in the tower for the Blessed 
Francis and his companion. And for that the 
Blessed Francis was not minded to come down 
from thence so long as he abode with the 
Cardinal and desired also that none should 
come in unto him, brother Angelo promised 
and made ordinance that every day victual 
"5 



Saint Francis of Assist 

should be brought thither for him and his 
companion. 

And when the Blessed Francis had gone 
thither with his companion, on the first night 
when he was fain to ga to sleep therein, came 
devils and did beat him sore. And calling his 
companion he said unto him : " Brother, the 
devils have beaten me sore, and therefore I 
will that thou remain anigh me, for I am 
afeared to stay here alone." And that night 
his companion bode anigh him, for the Blessed 
Francis was all trembling as he that is smit 
ten with an ague, wherefore both were awake 
through the whole night. 

In the meanwhile, said the Blessed Francis 
to his companion : " Wherefore have the 
devils beaten me ? and wherefore hath power 
been given unto them of the Lord that they 
should do me hurt ? " And saith he : " The 
devils be the Lord s sergeants, for even as the 
High Bailiff of the city doth send his sergeant 
to punish him that hath committed an offence, 
even so doth the Lord by his sergeants, to 
wit, by the devils that in this world are His 
ministers, correct and chastise whomsoever He 
loveth. For even the perfect Religious doth 
oft-times sin, albeit he know not thereof; 
wherefore by means of the devil is he chastised 
for that he knoweth not his sin, to the intent 
that he may search diligently both within him 
116 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

and without, and find out those things wherein 
he hath offended. For them that the Lord 
loveth of very love in this world, nought in 
them doth He leave to be punished hereafter. 

" Howbeit, by the mercy and grace of God, 
I know not that I have offended in aught for 
the which I have not made amends by con 
fession and satisfaction ; yea, by His mercy 
hath God granted me this boon, that as con 
cerning all things wherein I may please or 
displease Him I do receive clear knowledge in 
prayer. But it may be that He hath now by 
His sergeants chastised me for that albeit my 
lord Cardinal hath gladly shown me mercy 
and that it is necessary for my body to receive 
this refreshment, yet my brethren that go 
about the world enduring hunger and mani 
fold tribulations, and other brethren that abide 
in hermitages and sorry houses, when they 
shall hear that I am sojourning with my lord 
Cardinal, may find occasion to murmur against 
me, saying, c We do endure all these many 
adversities, while he hath these comforts of his 
own. 

" For I am bound ever to set them a good 
ensample, seeing that for this have I been 
given unto them, for more are the brethren 
edified when I abide amongst them in their 
sorry places rather than in others, and more 
patiently do they bear their own tribulations 
117 



Saint Francis of Assist 

when they hear that I also do endure the 
same." 

For in truth this was the chiefest and con 
tinual study of our father, that always and in 
all things he should afford a good ensample, 
and take away from the brethren all occasion 
of murmuring as concerning him. And on 
account of this, sick or heal, so many and so 
sore were the sufferings he endured that all 
the brethren whosoever that knew thereof as 
did we that were with him until his dying day, 
so often as they read thereof or commend them 
in writing to memory, cannot refrain them 
from tears, and are willing to undergo all 
tribulations and necessities with the greater 
patience and cheerfulness. 

The Blessed Francis come down therefore 
from the tower early in the morning and went 
to the lord Cardinal, telling him all that had 
befallen him and that he and his companion 
had undergone, yea, he even said unto him : 
" Men do believe me to be a saint, and behold, 
the devils have cast me forth of my retreat." 

And the lord Cardinal was right cheerful 
with him. Howbeit, for that he knew and 
reverenced him as a saint, he would not con 
tradict him after that he was minded not to 
stay there. And so the Blessed Francis bid 
ding him farewell, came back to the hermitage 
of Fonte Palumbo nigh Rieti. 
118 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

LXVIII. How he rebuked WHEN the Blessed 
the brethren that wished Francis was in the 
to go by the way of their Chapter General at 
Pft-Sf^SCj S Ma r y of the Little 
mility, and did foretell rt OI ?> at was 
them of the reformation called the Chapter of 
of the Order and the the Wattles, for that 
bringing back thereof to no dwellings were 
its first condition. therein but such as 

were builded with wattles, and five thousand 
brethren were assembled, a great many that were 
wise and learned went to the lord Bishop of Ostia, 
that was likewise there, and said unto him : 
" My lord, we would that thou shouldst per 
suade brother Francis to follow the counsel of 
the wiser brethren, and allow himself some 
times to be guided by them." And they did 
allege the Rules of S. Benedict, S. Augustine, 
and S. Bernard that did teach how such and 
such should be the life of them that were in 
the Order. 

And when the Cardinal had repeated all 
these things to the Blessed Francis by way of 
admonition, the Blessed Francis, making none 
answer unto him, did take him by the hand, 
and led him unto the brethren in Chapter 
assembled, and spake thus unto the brethren 
in the fervour and the strength of the Holy 
Spirit : " My brethren ! My brethren ! The 
Lord hath called me by the way of simplicity 
119 



Saint Francis of Assist 

and humility, and this way hath He pointed 
out to me in truth for myself and for them 
that are willing to believe me and to imitate 
me. I am fain, therefore, that ye name unto 
me none other Rule, neither of S. Benedict, 
nor of S. Augustine, nor of S. Bernard, nor 
none other way nor form of living save that 
which hath been mercifully shown and given 
unto me by the Lord. And the Lord hath 
told me that He would I should be a new 
covenant in the world, and that He would not 
lead us by any other way than by that know 
ledge. But with all your science and your 
wisdom, God will confound you, and I have 
trust in the sergeants of the Lord, that by 
means of them God will punish you, and that 
ye shall yet return to your condition, for aD 
your fault-finding, will ye or nill ye ! " 

Then the Cardinal was sore amazed, and 
answered nought, and all the brethren were 
mightily afeared. 



1 20 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

LXIX. How he fore THE Blessed Fran- 
knew and foretold that c j s sorrowed sore 
knowledge should be the to see the know- 
occasion of ruin to the j, that puffeth 
Order, and how he tor^ 

badeoneofthecompanions U P sought after 
to devote himself to the to * he neglect of 
study of preaching, godliness, and more 

especially if any 

should persevere not in the vocation where 
in he was called at the beginning. For he 
would say : " Those brethren of mine that 
are led away by curiosity of knowledge in the 
day of tribulation will find their hands empty. 
Therefore would I that they should rather be 
corroborated in godliness, so that, when the 
time of tribulation shall come, they may have 
the Lord with them in their straits, for verily 
tribulation shall come, such as that books 
useful for nought shall be cast aside into 
lockers and dark corners." 

This he said not because the reading of 
Holy Scripture was displeasing to him, but 
that he might withdraw all from overmuch 
care for learning. For he would rather that 
they should be good brethren in charity than 
smatterers in the curiosities of knowledge. 

He also scented aforehand the times that in 
no long space were to come wherein he fore 
knew that the knowledge which puffeth up 
should be the occasion of falling, whence after 

121 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

his death he did appear to one of the com 
panions that on a time was over-intent upon 
the study of preaching, whom he did rebuke 
and warn, bidding him take good heed to 
walk in the way of humility and simplicity. 



LXX. That in the conv THE Blessed Fran- 
ing time o tribulation, c i s sa id ; The time 
they that shall enter the sha u come w herein, 
Order shall be blessed, and b the eyil examples 
they that shall be approved J c . , , 
shall be better than they f ev l brethren, 
that went before them. this Rehgion, be- 

loved or Cjod, shall 

be diffamed in such sort as that she shall be 
ashamed to go forth in public ; but they that 
at that time shall come to take the Order 
upon them, shall be led thereunto by the 
working of the Holy Spirit only, and flesh and 
blood shall print no stain upon them, but they 
shall be truly blessed of the Lord. And, albeit 
in them their works shall not be meritorious, 
yet, natheless, for that the charity which did 
make the saints work fervently in spirit doth 
wax cold, exceeding great temptations shall 
come unto them, and they that in that time 
shall have been found approved shall be better 
than they that went before them. But woe 
unto them that, with only the show and 
appearance of religious conversation, and 

122 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

applauding themselves on their own wisdom, 
and putting their trust in their knowledge, 
shall then have been found idle, that is, not 
endeavouring themselves in godly works, in 
the way of the cross and of repentance, in the 
pure observance of the Gospel that by their 
profession they are bound to observe in purity 
and simplicity ! For they resist not with con 
stancy the temptations that are permitted to 
befall for the probation of the elect ; but they 
that shall have been proven and approved, 
shall receive the crown of life whereunto the 
malice of the reprobate doth cause them to 



LXXL How he made A CERTAIN corn- 

answer to his companion panion of the 

that asked him wherefore Blessed Francis 

he corrected not the . Qnce sM . Fath 



cesses that did overtake , . 

the Order in his own P^ 01 ! me > that 
time ^ which I would say 

unto thee hath 

already been considered of many," and saith he : 
"Thou knowest how formerly by the grace of 
God the whole Religion did flourish in the purity 
of perfection ; how all the brethren, with great 
fervour and solicitude, did in all things observe 
holy poverty, to wit, in their small and sorry 
buildings and furniture, their few and sorry 
123 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

books and habits, and as in these so in all 
other outward matters, they were of one will 
and fervour and solicitude to observe all things 
that pertain to our profession and vocation, 
and the ensample to all, and in like manner 
were they all of one mind in the love of God 
and of their neighbour, as men truly apostolic 
and evangelic. But now for some little time 
past hath this purity and perfection begun to 
be changed into somewhat exceeding different, 
albeit many do talk and excuse the brethren 
by reason of their multitude, saying that on 
this account these things cannot be observed 
by the brethren ; yea, many brethren have 
been smitten with so great blindness as that 
the people is more edified by these than by the 
former things, and more readily converted to 
devotion, and therefore it seemeth them that 
they do live the more becomingly, despising 
and setting at nought the way of holy sim 
plicity and poverty that was the very beginning 
and foundation of our Religion. Whence 
we, taking thought of these things, do firmly 
believe that they are displeasing unto thee, 
yet do we greatly marvel wherefore, if they do 
thus displease thee, thou dost put up with 
them and not correct them." 

The Blessed Francis made answer and said 
unto him : " The Lord forgive thee, brother, 
forasmuch as thou art minded to be mine 
124 



Saint Francis of Assist 

adversary against me, and to mix me up with 
these things that pertain not unto mine office. 
For so long as I held the office of superior 
over the brethren and they did abide in their 
vocation and profession, albeit that from the 
beginning of my conversion I have ever been 
ailing, yet with such small solicitude as I 
could did I endeavour to satisfy them both by 
ensample and by preaching ; but after that I 
perceived how the Lord did multiply the 
number of the brethren, and how they them 
selves by reason of their lukewarmness and 
want of spirit did begin to decline from the 
right way and safe wherein they had been 
wont to walk, and treading the broader way 
that leadeth unto death, would no longer pay 
heed unto their calling and profession nor to 
any good ensample, and were not minded to 
forsake the perilous and deadly journey they 
had emprised by reason of any preaching or 
admonition or ensample of mine that I did 
ever manifest before them, I did, therefore, 
resign the superiorship and the government 
of the Religion unto God and unto the 
ministers thereof. Whence, albeit that at the 
time when I did renounce mine office of 
superior over the brethren I did excuse me 
before the brethren in the Chapter General 
for that, by reason of mine infirmities, I was 
not able to undertake the charge of them, yet 
125 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

natheless, were the brethren willing to walk 
according to my will, for their comfort and 
utility I would that they should have none 
other minister but me until my dying day. 
From the time that a good and faithful sub 
ject knoweth and observeth the will of his 
superior, little solicitude need the superior 
have about him ; yea, so greatly should I 
rejoice in the goodness of the brethren, by 
reason of the gain unto them and the gain 
unto myself, that if I were lying abed sick it 
would be no trouble unto me to satisfy them ; 
for that mine office that is, the office of 
superior is spiritual only, to wit, to have the 
mastery over their evil ways and spiritually to 
correct and amend them. But, seeing that I 
cannot correct and amend them by preaching, 
admonition, and example, I am not minded to 
become an executioner to punish and scourge 
them like the magistrates of this world. 

" For I trust in the Lord that the invisible 
enemies that are the sergeants of the Lord for 
punishing the guilty in this world and in the 
world to come will yet take vengeance on 
them that transgress the commandments of 
God and the vow of their profession, and will 
make them be corrected by the men of this 
world to their reproach and shame, and that 
so they may be turned back unto their own 
calling and profession. 

126 



Saint Francis of Assist 

"Howsoever, unto the day of my death 
never will I cease, at least by good ensample 
and by good deeds, to lead the brethren to 
walk in the way that the Lord did point out 
unto me, the way that I have taught and 
pointed out by word and ensample, so as that 
they may be without excuse before God, and 
I shall not be bound before God to render any 
further account concerning them." 



LXXIL That by the THE most holy 

prayers and tears of the father would not 

humble and simple that his brethren 

brethren are converted should bg coyetous 

f^f+rS of knowledge and 
ledge and preaching of books, but his 
ot hers wl " an d tnat which 

he preached unto 

them was that they should take heed to be 
founded upon holy humility and to imitate 
pure simplicity, holy prayer, and our Lady 
Poverty, wherein the holy first brethren did 
build, and this alone he told them was the 
safe way to the salvation of their own souls 
and the edification of others, forasmuch as 
Christ, to the imitation of whom we be 
called, did show and teach this way alone by 
word and likewise by ensample. 

For the blessed father looking forward to 
127 



Saint Francis of Assist 

things to be, knew by the Holy Spirit, and 
many a time and oft did say unto the brethren 
that "many brethren taking occasion from 
the edification of others will let go their own 
calling, to wit, holy humility, pure simplicity, 
prayer, devotion and our Lady Poverty, and 
it will come to pass with them that they shall 
think themselves thereby to be the more endued, 
that is fulfilled, with devotion, and to glow 
more warmly with the love, and to be enlu- 
mined more brightly by the knowledge of 
God by reason of their understanding of 
Scripture. Hence in time of trial they will 
remain inwardly cold and empty, so as that 
they will not be able to turn back to their 
early calling, for that the time for living 
according to their calling they have lost in 
vain studies and false, and I fear lest that 
which they did seem to have shall be taken 
away from them, forasmuch as that which 
was given unto them, to wit, to hold and 
imitate their calling, they have altogether 
neglected." 

And he said further : " Many brethren 
there be that set all their study and all their 
care upon acquiring knowledge, letting go 
their holy calling by wandering forth both in 
mind and body beyond the way of humility 
and holy prayer ; who when they have preached 
to the people and have learnt that some have 
128 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

thereby been edified or converted to repent 
ance, are incontinent puffed up and extol 
themselves upon their work and the gain of 
another as if it had been their own gain ; 
when nevertheless they have preached rather 
to their own condemnation and harm, and 
have done nothing for themselves according 
to the truth, save only as the instruments of 
them through whom in truth the Lord hath 
gathered in this harvest, for them that they 
believe to be edified and converted to repent 
ance by their knowledge and preaching, the 
Lord doth in truth edify and convert by the 
prayers of the holy, poor, humble and simple 
brethren, albeit the holy brethren for the 
most part know not aught thereof, for thus 
is it the will of God they should know not 
lest haply they might pride themselves thereon. 
"Those brethren be my knights of the 
Table Round that do hide them in wilder 
nesses and lonely places that they may give 
themselves up to prayer and meditation bewail 
ing their own and others sins, living simply 
and humbly conversing, whose holiness is 
known unto God, albeit that at times it is 
unknown to the brethren and to men. When 
the souls of these shall be presented by the 
angels of the Lord, then shall the Lord show 
them the fruit and wages of their travail, to 
wit, the many souls that have been saved 
129 I 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

through their prayers and tears, and shall say 
unto them : " My dearly beloved sons, such and 
so many be the souls that have been saved by 
your prayers and tears and ensamples, and for 
that ye have been faithful over a few things, I 
will make ye rulers over many things. Others, 
verily, have preached and laboured in sermons 
of their own wisdom, yet is it through your 
merits that I have wrought the fruit of salva 
tion, wherefore receive ye the wages of their 
labours as well as the fruit of your merits, 
which is the everlasting kingdom that ye 
have snatched by the violence of your sim 
plicity and humbleness, and of your prayers 
and tears. 

" And even thus shall they, bringing their 
sheaves, that is, the fruits and deservings or 
their holy humility and simplicity, enter into 
the joy of their Lord rejoicing and exulting. 
But they that cared for nought save only to 
know and to point out to others the way of 
salvation, doing nought as for themselves, 
shall stand naked and empty-handed before 
the judgment-seat of Christ, bringing only 
the sheaves of confusion and of shame and 
of sorrow. 

" Then shall the truth of holy humility and 

simplicity and of holy prayer and poverty 

that is our calling, be exalted and glorified 

and magnified, the which truth they that are 

130 



Saint Francis of Assist 

puffed up with the wind of knowledge have 
disparaged in their life and in the idle sermons 
of their own wisdom, saying that truth itself 
is a lie, and, as though they had been smitten 
with blindness, cruelly persecuting them that 
did walk in the truth. 

" Then shall the error and the falsehood of 
their opinions wherein they have walked, and 
which they have preached for the truth, 
whereby they have cast down many into the 
pit of darkness, come to an end in grief and 
confusion and shame, and they themselves 
with the darkness of their opinion shall be 
overwhelmed in outer darkness with the spirits 
of darkness." 

Whence the Blessed Francis did oftentimes 
say upon that word : " The barren hath borne 
seven and she that hath many children is 
waxed feeble " : " The c barren is the good 
Religious, simple, humble, poor and despised, 
vile and abject, that with holy prayers and 
godly works doth edify others continually, and 
bringeth forth with grievous groaning." 

This word did he repeat many a time and 
oft before the ministers and other brethren, 
more especially in the Chapter General. 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

LXXIII. How it was his THE faithful servant 

will and teaching that the an d perfect imitator 

superiors and preachers o f Christ, Francis, 

should exercise themselves fee } inR himself in 

in prayer and works of virtue of hol hu . 

humility* ! r 

miiity in a peculiar 

manner transformed into Christ, did desire 
humility itself in his brethren beyond all other 
virtues, and did most affectionately encourage 
them without ceasing by word and ensample to 
love, desire, obtain and keep that grace, and 
most of all did he admonish and induce the 
ministers and preachers to exercise them in 
works of humility. 

For he said that by reason of holding the 
office of superior, or of devotion to the cares 
of preaching, they ought not to omit holy and 
devout prayer, going forth for alms, working 
at times with their hands, and doing other 
works like the rest of the brethren, for the 
sake ot good ensample and the gain of their 
own and other souls. He said moreover : 
" Greatly are those brethren that are under 
them edified when their ministers and 
preachers give themselves up to prayer and 
incline them willingly to works of humility 
and services of mean account. For otherwise 
cannot they without confusion and prejudice 
and condemnation to themselves admonish 
other brethren as concerning these matters. 
132 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

For meet is it they should practise the ensample 
of Christ before they preach it, and preach 
and practise at the same time." 



LXXIV. How unto his THE Blessed Francis 

own shame he taught the once ca ll e( j together 

brethren to know when a number of thfi 

he was the servant of God ^^ and said 

and when not, ,, T 

unto them : " 1 

have besought the Lord that He would deign 
to show me when I am His servant and when 
not. For nought else do I desire but always 
to be His servant. But the most gracious 
Lord of His condescension did make answer 
unto me : c Know that thou art truly my 
servant while thou thinkest, speakest, and 
doest holy things. Wherefore have I called 
you brethren together and notified ye hereof 
to the intent that I may be shamed before ye 
whensoever ye shall see me fail in any or in 
all of the said respects." 



LXXV. How he would THE lukewarm, 

by all means that all the that did never apply 

brethren should some* them earnestly and 

umes^ labour with their humbly to an / busi . 

ness, he said would 

quickly be vomited forth out of the mouth of 
133 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

God. No idle man might ever appear in his 
sight but he would straightway rebuke him 
with a biting tooth. Forasmuch as he him 
self, the ensample of all perfection, did humbly 
toil with his hands, allowing nought of the 
most precious gift of time to run to waste. 

For he said : " I will that all my brethren 
should labour and exercise them humbly in 
good works so as that we be less burdensome 
to men, and that neither heart nor tongue 
rove abroad in idleness. Let them that know 
nothing learn to work." 

Howbeit he said that the gain and the 
wages of the labour should be left to the 
judgment, not of the labourer, but to the 
judgment of the warden or of the family. 



34 



Saint Francis of Assist 

THE FIFTH PART, OF HIS ZEAL 
IN THE PERFECTING OF THE 
RULE AND TOWARD THE 
WHOLE RELIGION. 

LXX VI. How he praised THAT perfect cham - 

the profession of the Rule, pion and lover of 

and would that the t h e observance of 

brethren should know the Hol Gospel, the 

sa * nd ta ^ 1 theMo Blessed Francis, did 
and die therewithal. , . 

most ardently strive 

for the common profession of our Rule, which 
is nought other than the perfect observance of 
the Gospel, and did endow with a special beni- 
son all them that are and shall be true cham 
pions thereof. 

For this our profession, would he say unto 
his imitators, is the book of life, the hope of 
salvation, the earnest of glory, the marrow of 
the Gospel, the way of the Cross, the estate 
of perfection, the key of paradise, and the con 
dition of the everlasting covenant. This he 
would should be held of all and known of all, 
and he would that the brethren in their dis 
courses together should avoid weariness by 
oftentimes conferring thereupon, and in 
remembrance of the oath they had taken 
should full oft hold converse with the inner 
man as concerning the same. 
MS 



Saint Francis of Assist 

He taught them, moreover, ever to carry it 
before their eyes in perpetual memory, to 
remind them of the life they should lead and 
of due observance of the Rule, and, what is 
more, it was his will and teaching that the 
brethren should die therewith. 



LXXVII.-0 a holy lay WHEREFORE, of 
man that was martyred t hi s holy document 
holding the Rule in his and institute of the 

most blessed father 

was a certain lay-brother not forgetful, whom 
we do without doubt believe to have been 
received into the choir of the martyrs. For, 
whilst that by reason of his zeal for martyrdom 
he was among the infidels, and was in the end 
led forth by the Saracens to martyrdom, hold 
ing the Rule with great fervour in both hands, 
and humbly bending his knees, he said unto 
his companion : " Of all things that I have 
done contrary to this Rule, my dearest brother, 
before the eyes of the divine majesty and before 
thee do I confess me guilty." To this brief 
confession succeeded the sword whereby ending 
his life he won the crown of martyrdom. This 
brother it was that had entered the Order 
while as yet but a lad, and scarce could endure 
the fasting of the Rule, yet, natheless, stripling 
as he was, he wore a coat of mail next his skin. 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

Happy the boy that did thus happily begin and 
no less happily end ! 



LX XVI II. How he THE Blessed Francis 
would the Religion should sa id . J w {\\ go anc j 
always be under the pro- commen d the Reli- 
1 |ion of the brethren 
Minor to the Holy 
Roman Church, by the rod of whose power 
they that wish it evil may be terrified and 
chastised, and the sons of God may everywhere 
rejoice in full liberty to the increase of everlast 
ing salvation. May her sons thereby learn to 
be grateful for the sweet blessings of their 
Mother, and evermore follow her reverend 
footsteps with devoutness of spirit ! 

" For under her protection shall no evil 
befall the Order nor shall the son of Belial go 
through the vineyard of the Lord unpunished. 
The Holy Mother herself shall emulate the 
glory of our poverty, and will not in any wise 
allow the renown of our humility and the 
triumph of our obedience to be darkened by 
the clouds of pride. The chains of charity 
and peace wherewith we are bounden will she 
preserve unbroken, smiting them that disagree 
with her as with her smartest censure, and the 
sacred observance of Gospel purity shall 
flourish daily in her sight, nor will she suffer 
137 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

the sweet smell of our good report and of our 
holy conversation to be given forth in vain." 



LXXIX.-Of the four THE Blessed Francis 
prerogatives that God did sa jd t h a t he had 
confer upon the Religion obtained from thc 
anddidannounceuntothe Lord thege four 
Blessed Francis. things, and that the 

same had been announced unto him by an 
angel, to wit, that the Religion and pro 
fession of the brethren Minor should not fail 
even unto the Day of Judgment ; also that 
none who did knowingly persecute the Order 
should live long; also that no wicked man 
that was minded to live wickedly in the 
Order should be able to abide long therein ; 
also, that whosoever shall of his heart love the 
Order, howsoever he may have sinned shall at 
the last find mercy. 



LXXX. Of the condi- So great was the 

tions that he said were zea l he had for the 

necessary in a Minister preserving of perfec- 

General and in his com* Reljgion 



and so great seemed 
him to be the perfection of the profession of 
the Rule, that his thoughts did often run 
upon who should be after his death sufficient 
138 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

to the government of the whole Religion, 
and the preservation by God s assistance of 
perfection therein, yet none could he find 
fitting. 

Whence, nigh the end of his life, a certain 
brother said unto him : " Father, thou wilt 
go hence unto the Lord, and this family that 
followeth thee will abide in the vale of tears : 
notify therefore unto us if any there be in 
the Order thou knowest in whom thy spirit 
can find rest, and upon whom the burden of 
the Minister General may worthily be laid." 

The Blessed Francis made answer, and all 
his words were the weightier for his sighs : 
" My son, the captain of an army so great 
and made up of so many manner of men, the 
shepherd of a flock so huge and so scattered 
abroad, do I behold none that is sufficient to 
be ; yet one will I picture for you in whom 
shall be seen clearly such an one as the 
captain and shepherd of this family ought 
to be. 

<c This man," saith he, " ought to be one of 
most grave life, of great discretion, of laudable 
report, without private affections, lest while he 
loveth a part more dearly, he breed scandal to 
the whole. The study of prayer ought he to 
hold dear, but so as that he distribute certain 
hours to his own soul and certain others to 
his flock, for the first thing in the morning 
139 



Saint Francis of Assist 

ought he set before all things the most holy 
sacrifice of the Mass, and therein by long 
devotion most lovingly to commend himself 
and the flock to the divine protection. But 
after prayer let him set him in the midst to be 
plucked and pilled of all, ready to make 
answer to all and to make provision for all 
with charity and patience and gentleness. 

"One ought he to be that accepteth the 
person of none, so that no less heed shall he 
pay to the simple and foolish than to the 
knowing and wise. Unto whom if the gift 
of knowledge be granted, yet in his dealings 
let him rather bear the stamp of piety and 
simplicity, patience and humility, and let 
him cherish godliness in himself and in others, 
and in preaching godliness let him evermore 
practise the same, inciting others thereunto 
rather by his ensample than by his sermons. 
Let him be a blasphemer of money, the which 
is the chiefest source of corruption to our 
profession and perfection, and as the head and 
pattern to be imitated of all, let him in no 
wise give rise unto abuse by multiplying of 
money-boxes. 

" Let it be enough for him as for himself 
to have his habit and his little book - 9 for 
others his little basket with a reed, his tablets 
and a seal. Let him not be a heaper up of 
books nor overmuch given to reading, lest 
140 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

haply he derogate from his office that cometh 
before his study. Let him pitifully console 
the afflicted, seeing that this is the last remedy 
of them that suffer tribulation, lest in case he 
have not wherewith to supply the remedies of 
health the desperateness of the disease do prevail 
over them that are sick. That he may bend 
the froward to tractableness let him prostrate 
himself, and remit somewhat of his rightful 
due that thereby he may make gain of a soul. 

" Unto the runagates of the Order, as unto 
sheep that have perished, let him deny not 
the bowels of pity, nor never refuse them 
mercy, knowing that so overpowering be the 
temptations that can drive them to so great a 
downfall, that were the Lord to permit him 
to be tried thereby himself, haply he might 
slide down toward an even steeper precipice. 
I would that he should be honoured by all 
with all devotion arid reverence as the vicar 
of Christ, and that in all things and by all 
provision should be made for him with all 
goodwill, having regard to his necessity and 
the meanness of our estate. 

" Nevertheless doth it behove him not to 
look kindly upon honours, nor to take delight 
in favours more than in injuries, so that his 
behaviour be not changed by honours save for 
the better. But in case at any time he 
should be in need of more palatable and better 
141 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

food, let him take it not by stealth but in the 
public place, so that others may have no 
shame in providing them with the like in 
their ailments and infirmities. 

" Specially needful is it that he be able to 
detect the secrets of conscience and to search 
out the truth from hidden sources. All accu 
sations at the outset let him hold suspect until 
the truth by diligent examination doth begin 
to appear. But let him not lend ear to bab 
blers ; in accusations specially, let him hold 
them suspect and believe them not easily. 
Lastly, such an one ought he to be as never in 
any wise to warp nor relax the manly rule of 
equity and justice through covetousness of 
retaining office ; yet so nevertheless, as that 
the soul of none shall be slain by excess of 
rigour ; nor of excess of mildness let luke- 
warmness be born, nor let dissolution of disci 
pline be the outcome of an over-ready pardon. 
So let him be feared of all as that he may be 
loved of them that fear. Let him always think 
and feel that his office of superior is more of a 
burden than an honour unto him. 

" I would, therefore, that he should have 
companions endowed with honesty, austere as 
against their own wills, brave in times of need, 
pitiful and compassionate toward them that 
offend, having an equal affection toward all, 
receiving nought for their labour save only 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

just enough for the pure necessities of the 
body, and desirous of nought save the praise of 
God, the profit of the Order, the merit of 
their own souls and the perfect salvation of 
all the brethren, becomingly courteous toward 
all, and all becomingly courteous toward 
them, with holy cheerfulness receiving both the 
form and ensample of observance of the Gospel 
according to the profession of the Rule in 
their own persons purely and simply, and 
manifesting the same to all. Behold, I say, 
such an one ought the Minister General to be, 
and such companions ought he to have." 



LXXXL How the Lord FORASMUCH as ac- 

spake unto him when he cording to the mea- 

was sore afflicted by reason sure of the zeal that 

o the brethren that did he had continuall 

decline from perfection. for ^ perfecdon ^ 

the Religion, he could not but be made sad 
whensoever he did hear of or see any imper 
fection therein, when he began to understand 
that certain brethren gave an ill ensample in 
the Religion, and that the brethren generally 
had begun to decline from the topmost sum 
mit of their profession, inwardly smitten with 
passing grief of heart, he said unto the Lord 
once in prayer : " Lord, unto Thee do I 
resign the family that Thou didst give me." 
H3 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

And the Lord said straightway unto him : 
" Tell me, O thou simple and foolish manni- 
kin, wherefore dost thou sorrow so sore when 
some man goeth forth of the Religion and 
when the brethren walk not by the way that 
I did show thee ? Tell me, moreover, who 
was it that planted this Religion of the 
brethren ? Who is it that maketh a man be 
converted to repentance ? Who is it that 
giveth him strength to persevere therein ? Is 
it not I ? I chose thee not over My family 
for that thou wert a man learned and eloquent, 
forasmuch as I willed not that thou nor they 
that were true brethren and true observers of 
the Rule that I did give unto thee should walk 
in the way of learning and eloquence. But I 
chose thee, simple and foolish as thou art, that 
both thou and others may know how it is I 
that shall keep watch over My flock, and I 
have set thee as a sign unto them that the 
works which I work in thee, they also should 
work in themselves. For they that walk in 
the way that I have showed unto thee, have 
Me, and Me shall Jiey have yet more abun 
dantly ; but they that will to walk in the 
other way, from them shall be taken away 
even that which they do seem to have. 

" Wherefore I say unto thee, grieve not 
thou so sore henceforth, but do that thou 
doest, work that thou workest, seeing that in 
H4 



Saint Francis of Assist 

abiding charity have I planted the Religion of 
the brethren. Hence mayst thou know how 
greatly I love them; if any one of the brethren, 
returning to his vomit, shall die beyond the 
pale of the Religion, another will I send into 
the Religion that shall have his crown in his 
stead, and if such an one be not yet born, yet 
him will I make be born. And, that thou 
mayst know how greatly I do love the life and 
the Religion of the brethren of mine own free 
will, were it so that in the whole Religion did 
remain but three brethren only, yet even then 
shall it be My Religion, and I will not forsake 
it for ever ! " 

And when he had heard these things, his 
spirit did abide marvellously comforted. And 
albeit for the passing zeal that he ever had for 
the perfection of the Religion, he could not so 
contain himself but that he should be mightily 
grieved with all his heart when that he heard 
of any fall from perfection among the brethren 
whereby an evil example might be set or a 
scandal arise, yet natheless, after that he had 
been thus comforted of the Lord, he did call 
to mind that word of the psalm : " c I have 
sworn and I will perform it, that I will keep 
Thy righteous judgments, and observe the 
Rule that the Lord Himself did give unto me 
and unto them that would imitate me. 

"Moreover all the brethren have bound them 
145 K 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

hereunto even as have I. And therefore after 
that I did resign mine office over the brethren 
by reason of mine infirmities and other reason 
able causes, I am not henceforth held to aught 
save only to pray for the Religion and to set 
a good ensample unto the brethren ; for this 
have I of the Lord and do know for a truth, 
that even were it that mine infirmity excused 
me not, the most help that I could render the 
Religion is that every day I should give myself 
to prayer unto the Lord for it, that He will 
govern and preserve and protect the same. 
For herein have I bound me unto the Lord 
and unto the brethren, that and any one of 
the brethren should perish through evil en^ 
sample of mine, I am willing to undertake that 
the Lord should hold me answerable in his 
stead." 

These words he spake within himself to 
quiet his own heart, and he himself moreover 
did oftentimes expound the same unto the 
brethren in discoursing on the words of 
Scripture and in the Chapters. 

Whence, if any brother should tell him at 
any time that he ought to interfere in the 
governing of the Order, he would make 
answer, saying : " The brethren have their 
Rule and have sworn to observe it, and that 
they may have no excuse on my account, after 
that it pleased the Lord to appoint me to be 
146 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

superior over them, I did swear before them 
that I myself in like manner would observe 
the same. Whence, sithence that the brethren 
know what they ought to do, and moreover, 
what to avoid, nought remaineth save that I 
should teach them by works, seeing that for 
this was I given unto them in my life and 
after my death." 



LXXXH. Of the special BEYOND all other 
zeal that he had unto the p l aces o f t h e Order, 
place of the Blessed Mary a ial zeal and 

of the Little Portion, and { fond _ 

of the ordinances that he u j u u- rr 

made therein against idle ness had he , hls h u fe 
words. lon g m making be 

observed all perfec 
tion of life and conversation in the holy place 
of S. Mary of the Angels, as in the head and 
mother of the whole Religion, intending and 
willing that this place should be the pattern 
and ensample of humility and poverty and 
every Gospel perfection unto all other places, 
and that the brethren therein abiding ought 
ever to be beyond the rest of the brethren 
circumspect and solicitous in doing and avoid 
ing all such things as pertain unto a perfect 
observance of the Rule. 

Whence on a time, for the avoiding or 
idleness that is the root of all evil, and espe- 
147 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

daily in a Religious, on a certain day he 
made ordinance that after meat, the brethren 
together with himself should forthwith exer 
cise them in some work, lest the good that 
they had gained in time of prayer should be 
wholly or in part wasted in vain and idle 
words whereunto a man after meat is mostly 
disposed. 

Moreover he made ordinance and com 
manded the same to be firmly observed, that 
if any of the brethren doing nothing or at 
work on anything should utter any idle word 
among the brethren, he should be bound to 
say one Pater Noster^ praising God at the 
beginning and at the end of the prayer, but 
so nevertheless, that if haply conscious of his 
lapse, he should first have blamed himself for 
that he had committed, he should say the 
Pater Noster for his own soul with the Laudes 
Domino as aforesaid, but and it were that he 
should be first reproved thereof by one of the 
brethren, he should be bound to say the Pater 
Noster for the soul of the brother so reproving 
him. But in case he that was reproved did 
excuse himself and would not say the Pater 
Noster^ he should in like manner be bound to 
say two Pater Nosters for the soul of the 
brother that did reprove him. But if on his 
own or others witness it shall be proven true 
that he did speak that idle word, he shall say the 
148 



Saint Francis of Assist 

said Laudes Deo at the beginning and end of 
the prayer loud enough to be heard or under 
stood of all the brethren standing by, the 
which brethren whilst that he sayeth the 
same shall hold their peace and hearken there 
unto. But in case any brother listening and 
hearing a brother speak an idle word shall 
hold his peace and shall not reprove him, let 
him in like manner be held to say one Pater 
Noster with the Laudes Deo for the soul of 
him that speaketh the idle word. 

And whatsoever brother entering a cell or 
house or any place wherein he shall find another 
brother or other brethren, he ought forthwith 
to bless and praise God devoutly. 

These Laudes Domino the most holy father 
was ever careful himself to say, and with most 
earnest will and desire did teach and incite 
the other brethren to say the same lauds heed- 
fully and devoutly. 



LXXXIIL-How he did ALBEIT the Blessed 

admonish the brethren Francis knew that 

that they should never the Kingdom of 

forsake this place. Heayen g^ been 

stablished in every quarter of the earth and 
did believe that in every place the grace of 
God might be given unto His elect, yet nathe- 
less, did he know by experience that the place 
149 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

of the Blessed Mary of the Little Portion 
was fulfilled of more abundant grace and was 
haunted by the visitation of heavenly spirits 
from on high. 

For this reason would he often say unto the 
brethren : " See, O my sons, that never do ye 
forsake this place. If that ye be thrust forth 
on the one side, enter ye by the other, for this 
place is holy and the dwelling place of Christ 
and of the Virgin His Mother. Here when 
we were few did the Most High give us 
increase j here by the light of His wisdom did 
He enlumine the souls of His poor ; here by 
the fire of His love did He kindle our wills. 
Here, whosoever shall pray with a devout 
heart, shall obtain that which he doth desire, 
and he that doth offend shall the more griev 
ously be punished. Wherefore, O my sons, 
hold ye this place most worthy of all reverence 
and honour, as in very truth the dwelling place 
of God, specially beloved of Him and of His 
Mother ; and therein with all your heart, 
with the voice of exultation and of confession, 
confess ye to God the Father and to His Son 
our Lord Jesus Christ in the unity of the 
Holy Spirit!" 



ISO 



Saint Francis of Assist 

LXXXIV,-Of the pre- Holy of Holies is this 
rogatives that the Lord Place of Places, 

wrought in the place of {Meetly held worthy of 
S. Mary of the Angels. surpassing honour ! 

Happy thereof the surname, " Of the Angels" 
Happier yet the name, " T4e Blessed tMary." 

Now, a true omen, the third name conferreth 
" The Little "Portion " on the Little Brethren, 
Here, where by night a presence oft of jtngels 
Singing sweet hymns illumine th the watches. 

Fallen it lay when Francis did upraise it, 
Of the three churches his own hand rebuilded 
Choosing this one wherein to don the sack- cloth, 
finding the Jlesh in fetters of the spirit. 

Here in this holy precinct was begotten 
Erstwhile our Order of the Brethren fMinor ; 
Here shall be found that throng of saints for ever 
Whilst they still take ens ample of their father. 

First to be shorn as vowed to Christ her Lover, 
Clara did here forsake the world to jind Him, 
{Mother of noble brethren and of sisters 
Bringing back Christ to men through their 
endeavour. 

Here was the old world* s broad highway made 

narrow, 

Here the way broader for the Chosen People ; 
Here grew the Rule; here Poverty, our Lady, 
Smiting down pride, called back the Cross 

amongst us. 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

Francis sore troubled, weary of his burden, 
Here fndeth peace; Ms sorrows here have 

healing ; 

Here is the truth made clear whereof he doubted^ 
Here all the father prayethfor is granted. 



THE SIXTH PART, OF HIS ZEAL 
FOR THE PERFECTION OF THE 
BRETHREN, 

LXXXV. And first, how THE most Blessed 
he did describe unto them father, as it were 
a perfect brother. transformed in some 

sort into the holy brethren, out of the burning 
of the love and the fervency of the zeal that 
he had toward their perfection, did often 
meditate within himself what were the condi 
tions and virtues wherewith a good brother 
Minor must needs be adorned. And he said 
that a good brother Minor would be he that 
had the life and conditions of these holy 
brethren, to wit : the faith of brother Bernard, 
that he had in absolute perfection along with 
the love of poverty; the simplicity and purity 
of brother Leo, that in truth was of a most 
holy purity ; the courtesy of brother Angelo, 
that was the first soldier to come into the 
Order, and was fulfilled of all courtesy and 
152 



Saint Francis of Assist 

kindness ; the gracious aspect and natural 
sense with fair and devout eloquence of 
brother Masseo j the mind lifted up in con 
templation that brother Egidio had even to 
the highest perfection ; the godly and con 
tinual activity of the holy Rufinus, that did 
always pray without intermission, so as that 
even asleep or at work his mind was always 
with the Lord; the patience of brother Juniper, 
that did attain to a state of perfect patience 
by reason of the perfect renunciation of his 
own will that he did set before his eyes, and 
his surpassing desire to imitate Christ by the 
way of the Cross ; the bodily and spiritual 
strength of brother John de Laudibus, that at 
that time was strong in the body above all 
men ; the charity of brother Rogero, whose 
whole life and conversation was in the fer 
vency of charity ; and the solicitude of brother 
Lucido that was ever passing solicitous and 
was never minded to stay in a place more 
than a month or so, but when he liked staying 
in any place would forthwith depart there 
from, saying : " Not here but in Heaven is 
our place of abiding." 



153 



Saint Francis of Assist 

LXXXVL How he did AMONG the other 
describe wanton eyes, that virtues that he loved 
he might induce the and did desire should 
brethren to honourable i , u , 
living. be m the brethren, 

next to the founda 
tion of holy humility he did chiefly love the 
comeliness and cleanliness of chastity. Whence, 
being minded to teach the brethren to have 
chaste eyes, he was wont to figure wanton 
eyes under this similitude. A King, pious 
and powerful, sent to the Queen two messengers 
the one after the other. The first returneth 
and bringeth back the message word for word 
and saith nought of the Queen, forasmuch as 
he had wisely kept his eyes in his head so that 
they had not leapt out were it never so little 
toward the Queen. The other returneth and 
after a few words doth begin to weave a long 
history as concerning the beauty of the 
Queen. " Verily, my lord," saith he, " a 
passing fair woman have I seen ; happy he 
that doth enjoy her ! " 

And the King unto him : <c Thou wicked 
servant, thou hast cast wanton eyes upon my 
Queen ! It is clear that thou wouldst fain 
have procured by craft that which thou didst 
look upon ! " 

He biddeth therefore the first be called and 
saith unto him, " How seemeth unto thee of 
the Queen ? " " Excellent well, meseemeth," 
154 



Saint Francis of Assist 

saith he, "for that she did willingly and 
patiently hearken unto me." Thus wisely 
made he answer, and the King saith unto 
him : " Is there any comeliness in her or 
not ? " He answereth : " My lord, to look 
upon her comeliness is yours ; mine was it 
only to carry the words of my message." 
The King giveth sentence : " Thou," saith 
he, c< hast chaste eyes, be thou in my chamber 
yet more chaste of thy body, and enjoy 
my delights. But let this wanton one go 
forth of the house lest he pollute my 
chamber ! " 

He said therefore : " Who ought not be 
afeard to look upon the Spouse of Christ ? " 



LXXXVII.-Of three ON a time when by 

words that he left unto reason of an infirmity 

the brethren to preserve of the stomach he 

their perfection. would ^ vomitj Qn 

account of the exceeding great violence he did 
unto himself, he vomited blood throughout all the 
night until matins, and when his companions did 
behold him die, as it were, through exceeding 
weakness and affliction, with sore grief and 
shedding of tears they said unto him: " Father, 
what shall we do without thee ? Unto whom 
wilt thou leave us orphans ? Thou hast ever 
been a father and a mother unto us, begetting 
155 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

and bringing us forth in Christ. Thou hast 
been unto us a captain and shepherd, a master 
and corrector, teaching and correcting us more 
by ensample than by word ! Whither there 
fore shall we go, sheep without a shepherd, 
orphan sons without a father, rude men and 
simple without a captain ? 

" Whither shall we go seek thee, O glory 
of poverty, praise of simplicity, honour of our 
vileness ? Who hereafter shall show us blind 
men the way of truth ? Where will be the 
mouth that spake unto us and the tongue that 
gave us counsel ? Where will be the fervent 
spirit directing us in the way of the Cross, 
and comforting us even unto Gospel per-" 
fection ? Where wilt thou be, that we may 
betake us unto thee, thou light of our eyes, 
that we may seek thee out, thou comforter of 
our souls ? Behold, thou diest, father ! Be 
hold, thou dost thus leave us desolate, forsaking 
us in our sadness and bitter loss ! 

" Behold, the day draweth nigh, the day of 
weeping and bitterness, the day of desolation 
and sorrow ! Lo, the bitter day that we have 
dreaded to look upon ever sithence that we 
were with thee, yea, that we could not even 
think upon ! Truly, no marvel is this, for 
thy life hath been unto us for a continual 
light, and thy words for burning torches 
lighting us evermore on the way of the Cross 
156 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

to Gospel perfection, to the love and imitation 
of the most sweet Crucified ! 

" Wherefore, father, at least give thy bless 
ing unto us and unto thy other sons whom thou 
hast begotten in Christ, and leave us some 
memorial of thy will, that the brethren may 
have thee ever in remembrance and may be 
able to say : These words did our father 
leave unto us his brethren and sons at his 
death. " 

Then did the most pitiful father turn his 
fatherly eyes upon his sons, and said unto 
them: "Call unto me brother Benedict de 
Pirato." For that brother was a holy priest 
and discreet, that did celebrate ,unto the 
Blessed Francis whensoever he lay sick, for 
that always when he was able, was he minded 
to have or to hear Mass, howsoever feeble he 
might be. 

And when he had come, he said unto him : 
" Write how that I do give my blessing unto 
all my brethren that are in the Religion ana 
unto them that shall come after even unto the 
world s end. And, for that by reason of my 
weakness and the pain of mine infirmity I am 
not able to speak much, in these three words 
do I briefly lay open my will and intention 
unto all the brethren present and to be ; to 
wit, that in token of my remembrance and 
blessing and testament, let them evermore 
157 



Saint Francis of Assist 

love one another even as I have loved them, 
let them evermore love and observe our Lady 
Poverty, and evermore be faithful and loyal 
lieges to the prelates and clergy of Holy 
Mother Church." 

For thus was our father in the Chapters of 
the brethren always wont at the end of the 
Chapter to give his blessing and absolution to 
all the brethren in the Religion present and 
to come, and even out of Chapter in the fer 
vency of his charity would he many a time do 
the same. Moreover he would admonish the 
brethren that they should dread all evil en- 
sample and beware of following the same, and 
his curse did he leave unto all them that by 
evil ensample should provoke men to blaspheme 
the Religion and life of the brethren, for that 
good and holy poor men be thereby shamed 
and sorely afflicted. 



LXXXVIII. Of the love ONE night the 

that he showed unto the Blessed Francis was 

brethren when nigh his grieved so sore by 

death by giving to each a the in of his 

morsel of bread as did infirmities that as 

that night he could 

neither rest nor sleep. But on the morrow, 

when his pains were some little abated, he 

bade call all the brethren that were in the 

158 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

place, and beholding them as they sate before 
him, he did look upon them as though all the 
brethren were there present in their persons. 

And setting his right hand upon the head 
of each, he gave his blessing unto all of the 
Order, present, absent and to come even unto 
the world s end. And he did seem as it were 
to have compassion on himself for that he 
might not look upon all his brethren and sons 
before his death. 

But for that he was fain in his own death 
to imitate his Lord and Master, whom in his 
life he had imitated perfectly, he bade breads 
be brought unto him and blessed them, and 
did make them be broken into many pieces, 
for that by reason of his too great feebleness 
he was not able himself to break them. And 
taking the bread, he held forth a morsel unto 
each of the brethren, enjoining him to eat the 
whole thereof. 

For even as our Lord before His death was 
minded to eat with the apostles on the fifth 
day of the week in token of His love, so was 
the Blessed Francis, His perfect imitator, fain 
to show his brethren the same token of his 
love. And that he was fain to do this after 
the similitude of Christ is clearly manifest 
hereby, for that he did ask afterward whether 
it were then the fifth day of the week. 

But one of the brethren did reserve a morsel 
59 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

of that bread and after the death of the Blessed 
Francis, many sick folk that did taste thereof 
were straightway healed of their infirmities. 

LX XXIX. How he WHEN by reason or 
feared lest any tribulation tne pain of his ail- 
should befall the brethren ments he was not 
by reason of his infirmi* ablg tQ take ^ 

and saw that thereby 

the brethren were much distraught and wearied 
on his account, for that hitherto he had ever 
loved the souls of the brethren more than his 
own body, he did begin to fear lest the brethren 
out of their exceeding travail in attending to 
his necessities might incur some offence, even 
were it the least, against God by reason of 
some impatience. 

Whence on a time with pity and compassion 
he said unto his companions : " My best- 
beloved brethren and little children, let it not 
be a weariness unto ye to travail on behalf of 
mine infirmity, seeing that the Lord on be 
half of me His little servant shall in this world 
and the next repay ye all the fruit of those 
your works that by reason of your solicitude 
for my infirmity ye cannot now perform ; 
yea, greater gain do ye hereby achieve than 
were ye to labour for yourselves, seeing that 
He which succoureth me doth succour the 
1 60 



Saint Francis of Assist 

whole Religion and life of the brethren. 
Yea, verily, ye may say thus : c Upon thee 
do we spend our charges, and in thy stead 
shall the Lord be a debtor unto us. " 

But this the holy father said being fain to 
succour and raise their drooping spirit for the 
passing great zeal that he had toward the per 
fection of his souls. For he feared lest they 
might be tempted at times under stress of that 
travail to say : " We cannot pray nor endure 
so sore travail," and thus might become over 
wearied and thereby impatient, so as that they 
might haply be losers of great gain in return 
for a small labour. 



XC. How he did ad- AFTER that the 
monish the sisters of Blessed Francis had 
S. Clara, made his "Praises 

unto the Lord of His creatures," he made also 
certain holy words with music for the com 
forting and edification of the Poor Ladies, 
knowing that they were sore troubled by 
reason of his infirmity. And for that he was 
not able to visit them in person, he sent the 
words unto them by the companions. For he 
was fain in those words to lay open his will 
unto them, to wit, how they ought to live 
and converse humbly and be of one mind in 
charity. For he perceived that their conversion 
161 L 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

and holy conversation did not only tend to the 
exaltation of the brethrens Religion but to 
the exceeding great edification of the Church 
Universal. 

But knowing that from the beginning of 
their conversion they had led a life passing 
strait and poverty-stricken, he was moved with 
pity and compassion toward them. Whence 
in those same words he besought them that 
even as the Lord from many parts had 
assembled them together in one to holy 
charity, holy poverty and holy obedience, so 
ought they ever to live and to die therein. 
A.nd specially did he admonish them that out 
of such alms as the Lord might give them 
they should discreetly make provision for their 
bodies with cheerfulness and thanksgiving, and 
most of all, how they that were heal in their 
toils that they did undergo on behalf of their 
sick sisters, and they themselves that were 
sick should also be patient in their infirmities. 



162 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

THE SEVENTH PART, OF HIS 
CONTINUAL FERVENCY OF LOVE 
AND COMPASSION TOWARD THE 
PASSION OF CHRIST, 

XCL And first, that he SucHwas the Blessed 
paid no need unto his own Francis fervency of 
infirmities for the love of i i y . 

Christ s Passion. love ar ] d c passion 

toward the pangs 

and sufferings of Christ, and so sorely did he 
daily afflict himself both inwardly and out 
wardly on account of the Passion itself, that 
he heeded not his own infirmities. Whence 
albeit that of a long time and unto his dying 
day he suffered ailments of the stomach and 
liver and spleen, and from the time that he 
returned from beyond sea had continual 
exceeding great pain of the eyes, yet would 
he never thereof take any pains to make him 
be heal. 

Whence the lord Bishop of Ostia seeing 
that he was and ever had been so austere as 
concerning his own body, and most of all for 
that he had begun already to lose the sight of 
his eyes and for that he was not minded to 
make him be healed thereof, did with much 
pity and compassion admonish him, saying : 
" Brother, thou dost not well in that thou dost 
163 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

not make thee be healed, for thy life and health 
be of exceeding great usefulness to the brethren 
and lay-folk and to the whole Church. For 
seeing that thou hast compassion on thy sick 
brethren, and hast ever been pitiful and 
merciful-hearted toward them, thou oughtest 
not to be cruel unto thyself in so sore neces 
sity. Wherefore I do enjoin thee that thou 
make thee be healed and succoured." 

For the most holy father himself did always 
take aught bitter as it had been sweet, for that 
he did evermore draw forth a passing great 
sweetness from the humility and the footprints 
of the Son of God. 



XCII. How he was found NOT long after his 
going bewailing in a loud conversion when he 
voice the Passion of was W alking on a 
Christ. time on the way not 

far from the church of the Blessed Mary of 
the Little Portion, he went making lamenta 
tion in a loud voice. But a certain spiritual 
man met him, and fearing that he had a pain 
from some sickness, said unto him : " What 
aileth thee, brother ? " But he made answer : 
" Thus ought I to go throughout the whole 
world without shame, bewailing the Passion 
of my Lord." 

Thereupon he also did begin to lament sore 
164 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

and to shed tears. This man we knew and 
understood this from himself, and much com 
fort and pity did he make for the Blessed 
Francis and for us his companions. 



XCIIL How the joyous DRUNKEN with the 

songs that he did some^ love and compassion 

times make out of doors of Christ, the Blessed 

would be turned into tears Francis would at 

and pity for Christ. dmes do such _ like 

things as this ; for the passing sweet melody of 
the spirit within him, seething over outwardly 
did oftentimes find utterance in the French 
tongue, and the strain of the divine whisper 
that his ear had caught would break forth into 
a French song of joyous exulting. At times 
he would pick up a stick from the ground and 
setting it upon his left shoulder, would draw 
another stick after the manner of a bow with 
his right hand athwart the same as athwart a 
viol or other instrument, and making befitting 
gestures would sing in French of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. But all this show of joyance 
would be ended in tears and the exultation 
would die out in pity of Christ s Passion. 
And in tears would he abide, drawing deep 
sighs and with redoubled lamentations would 
he hang suspended from heaven, forgetful of 
that which he did hold in his hands the while 



Saint Francis of Assist 

THE EIGHTH PART, OF HIS ZEAL 
TOWARD PRAYER AND THE 
DIVINE WORK, AND TOWARD 
OBSERVING SPIRITUAL GLAD 
NESS IN HIMSELF AND OTHERS, 

XCIV* And first, of ALBEIT that for 
prayer and the Divine many years he was 
Office, afflicted with the 

said infirmities, yet natheless so devout was he 
and reverent at his orisons and at the Divine 
Office, that at such time as he was praying or 
even saying his canonical Hours, never would 
he lean against a wall or the jamb of a door, 
but would always stand upright and bare 
headed, or at times upon his knees ; and all 
the more for that the greater part of the day 
and night he did give himself up to prayer ; 
yea, when he went about the world afoot, he 
would always stand still when he would say his 
Hours, and if it were that he were riding by 
reason of his infirmities, yet would he always 
alight to say the Office. 

Hence, on a time when it was raining 
exceeding heavily and he by reason of his 
infirmity and passing great necessity was rid 
ing a- horseback, when that he was already all 
bathed in wet, he alighted of his horse when 
1 66 



Saint Francis oi Assist 

he would say his Hours, and with as great 
fervency of devotion and reverence said tht 
Office thus standing in the road with the rain 
continually pouring upon him as had he been 
in a church or a cell. And saith he to his 
companion : " If the body would fain eat his 
meat, that with the body itself doth become 
the food of worms, in peace and quiet, with 
how much quiet and peace and with how 
great reverence and devotion ought the soul 
to receive the food that is God Himself ! " 



XCV. How he ever loved HEREIN had the 

in himself and others both Blessed Francis 

inward and outward al s his highest 

spiritual cheerfulness. ^ 7 chiefest udy ^ 

that apart from prayer and the Divine Office 
he should maintain both inwardly and out 
wardly a spiritual cheerfulness. And this in 
like manner did he specially love in the 
brethren, yea, oftentimes did he reprove them 
for their mourn fulness and melancholy. 

For he would say that " and the servant of 
God would study to have and to keep both 
inwardly and outwardly the spiritual cheerful 
ness that ariseth out of cleanness of heart, and 
is obtained by devoutness of prayer, the devils 
have no power to do him a hurt, saying; 
c For that the servant of God hath cheerful- 



Saint Francis of Assist 

ness in tribulation and in prosperity, we can 
find no entrance whereby to enter into him, 
nor to do him a hurt. But then do the devils 
exult when they are able to quench or to 
hinder by any means soever the devoutness 
and cheerfulness that do arise from simple 
prayer and other godly works. 

" For if that the Devil may have aught ot 
his own in the servant of God, save he be 
wise and heedful at once to destroy and do 
away therewith by virtue of holy prayer, con 
trition, confession and satisfaction, in a short 
time out of a single hair he maketh a beam 
by evermore adding thereunto. Therefore, 
my brethren, for that this spiritual cheerful 
ness doth proceed from cleanness of heart and 
the purity of continual prayer, special heed 
should be given to the acquiring and pre 
serving of these two things, that ye may have 
both inwardly and outwardly the cheerfulness 
which with exceeding affection I do desire 
to see and to feel both in myself and in you, to 
the edification or our neighbour and to the 
disgrace of our enemy. For unto the enemy and 
unto his limbs doth it pertain to be sorrowful, 
but unto us always to rejoice and be glad in 
the Lord." 



168 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

XCVL How he did THE Blessed Francis 
rebuke a companion that sa id : Seeing that 
was sad in the face, j know how the 

devils do envy me by reason of the blessings 
that the Lord hath granted unto me, I do 
know also and see that as they cannot do me 
a hurt through mine own self, they do lie in 
wait and study how to do me a hurt through 
my companions. But if it be that they can 
do me no hurt, neither through myself nor 
my companions, they do flee away in sore 
confusion. Yea, and I were at any time 
tempted or melancholy, when I do perceive 
the cheerfulness of my companion, then 
straightway by occasion of his cheerfulness, 
am I turned back from temptation and 
melancholy to inward and outward cheerful 
ness." 

For this reason did the father himself sorely 
rebuke them that made an outward show of 
sadness. For on a certain time he rebuked 
one of the companions that did appear with a 
sorrowful countenance. And he saith unto 
him : " Why showest thou outwardly this 
dolour and sadness on account of thine offences ? 
Keep this sadness to thyself and God only, 
and pray Him of His mercy that He forgive 
thee and restore to thy soul the healthy joy- 
ance whereof it hath been deprived as a 
punishment for thy sin. But before me and 
169 



Saint Francis of Assist 

others be heedful ever to have cheerfulness, 
for it becometh not a servant of God before 
his brother or any other to show sadness and 
a troubled countenance." 

Not that it is to be understood or believed 
that our father, the lover of all gravity and 
decency, would desire this cheerfulness to be 
shown in laughter or even in the least idle 
word, forasmuch as hereby it is not spiritual 
cheerfulness that is shown, but rather vanity 
and folly ; yea, in the servant of God he did 
specially abhor laughter and idle speech, for 
he would that the servant of God should not 
only not lau^h himself, but should not afford 
to others the least occasion for laughter. 
Whence in a certain admonition he did more 
clearly define what ought to be the cheerful 
ness of a servant of God, for saith he : 
" Blessed is the Religious that hath no joyous- 
ness nor gladness save only in the most holy 
words and works of the Lord and therewithal 
provoketh men into the love of God in joy 
and gladness. And woe unto the Religious 
that doth delight in vain and idle words and 
therewithal provoketh men unto laughter." 

By cheerfulness of countenance, therefore, 
he did understand the fervency and solicitude 
and disposition and preparation of mind and 
body to do all good work with a good will, 
for that by a fervency and disposition of this 
170 



Saint Francis of Assist 

kind others are at times more readily pro 
voked to do the like than by the good deed 
itself. Yea, be the deed never so good, and 
it seem not done of a good will and a warm 
heart, it rather begetteth weariness than pro- 
voketh unto good. 

And therefore did it irk him to see sadness 
in the face, that doth too often represent 
melancholy and indisposition of mind and 
idleness of body in every good work. But 
gravity and seriousness in countenance and in 
all the members and senses of the body he did 
ever specially love in himself and others, and 
unto this as far as in him lay did he incite 
others both by word and example. 

For he knew by experience that gravity and 
modesty of manner of this kind is as it were 
a wall and passing strong shield against the 
arrows of the Devil, and that the soul with 
out the protection of this wall and shield is as 
a soldier naked in the midst of enemies exceed 
ing strong and armed unto the teeth, con 
tinually raging and bent upon his death. 



XCVII. How he taught THE most holy 

the brethren to satisfy the father, perceiving 

necessities of the body, an( j understanding 

lest prayer should be lost. ^ the body was 

created for the soul, and that bodily acts ought to 
171 



Saint Francis of Assist 

be done for the sake of spiritual acts, spake thus: 
" The servant of God in eating and drinking 
and sleeping and supplying the other neces 
sities of the body, ought to satisfy his body 
with discretion, in such sort as that Brother 
body shall have no right to murmur saying : 
c I cannot stand upright and attend to prayer, 
nor be cheerful in tribulations of the mind, 
nor work other good works for that thou 
dost not satisfy my needs. 

"For if that the servant of God were to 
satisfy his body with discretion and in a manner 
enough good and decent, and Brother body 
were to be negligent and sluggish and sleepy 
in prayer, in vigils and in good works, then 
ought he to chastise him as a bad. and lazy 
mule, for that he is willing enough to eat, but 
unwilling to be of any profit and carry his 
burden. But if by reason of want and poverty 
Brother body cannot have what is necessary 
unto him in health and sickness, when he hath 
asked humbly and honestly of his brother or 
his superior for the love of God, and it is not 
given unto him, let him endure it patiently for 
the love of God that did Himself endure the 
same, that did seek one to comfort Him and 
found him not. And this necessity borne 
with patience shall be counted unto him of 
the Lord for martyrdom. And, for that he 
did that which he ought, to wit, ask humbly, 
172 



Saint Francis of Assist 

his necessity is excused of the Lord, even 
though the body be full sore enfeebled there- 
by." 



THE NINTH PART, OF CERTAIN 
TEMPTATIONS THAT THE LORD 
DID ALLOW TO BEFALL HIM, 

XCVIIL And first, how WHAT time the 
the devil did ei- cer into a Blessed Francis in 
pillow that he had under t h e hermitage at 
his head, Greccio was so 

journing to pray in the last cell beyond the 
greater cell, on a certain night in the first 
sleep, he called his companion that lay nigh 
him, and the companion rising up went to the 
vestibule of the cell where the Blessed Francis 
lay, and the saint said unto him : " Brother, I 
have not been able to sleep to-night, nor to 
stand upright to pray, for my head and my 
legs do tremble sore and meseemeth I have 
eaten bread kneaded of tares." 

And when the companion spake unto him 
words of compassion, the Blessed Francis said : 
" I do verily believe that the devil is in this 
pillow that I have at mine head." For albeit 
that he would never lie on feathers nor have a 
feather pillow from the time that he had left 
173 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

the world, yet the brethren had at that time 
compelled him against his will to have that 
pillow by reason of the infirmity in his eyes. 

He flung it therefore at his companion, but 
the companion catching it with his right 
hand did set it upon his left shoulder, and 
when he had gone out of the vestibule of the 
cell, straightway he lost his speech, and was 
not able to loose the pillow nor to move his 
limbs, but stood there upright, unable to 
move from the place, and without any feeling 
in him. But when he had thus stood for some 
space, by God s grace the Blessed Francis 
called him and straightway he returned unto 
him, letting fall the pillow behind his back. 

And when he had come back to the Blessed 
Francis he notified unto him all that had 
befallen him, and, saith the Blessed Francis : 
" Last evening when I was saying Complines 
I felt the devil come into the cell. Whereby 
I do perceive that this devil is passing crafty, 
forasmuch as that not being able to do a hurt 
unto my soul, he is fain to hinder a necessity 
of my body in such sort as that I cannot sleep 
nor stand upright at prayer, and by this means 
to hinder the devoutness and cheerfulness of 
my heart so as that thereby I should murmur 
as concerning mine infirmity." 



74 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

XCIX. Of an exceeding WHILST he was 

sore temptation that he had abiding in the place 
for more than two years. of S> Mary an ex _ 

ceeding strong temptation was sent upon him 
for the profit of his soul. Thereby was he so 
sore afflicted in mind and body that many a 
time would he withdraw him from the com 
pany of the brethren for that he could not 
show himself unto them as cheerful as was his 
wont. Natheless he did afflict himself by 
abstinence from meat and drink and words, 
did pray instantly and shed abundant tears that 
the Lord would deign to send him a sufficient 
remedy in tribulation so sore. 

When he had been thus afflicted more than 
two years, it befell that on a certain day 
whilst that he was praying in the Church of 
S. Mary, that word of the Gospel was spoken 
unto him in spirit : " If ye have faith as a 
grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this 
mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, 
and it shall remove." 

The Blessed Francis made answer : cc Lord, 
what is this mountain ? " And it was said 
unto him : " This mountain is thy tempta 
tion." And S. Francis said : " Therefore, O 
Lord, be it unto me as Thou hast spoken ! " 

Straightway he was set free so perfectly 
as that it seemed him he had never had any 
temptation at all. In like manner on the 
175 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

holy mount Alverna whereon he did receive 
the stigmata of the Lord in his body, he did 
suffer temptations and tribulations of the 
devils so that he could not show him cheerful 
as was his wont. For he said unto his com 
panion : " Did the brethren only know how 
many and how sore be the tribulations and 
afflictions wherewith the devils do persecute 
me, there is not one of them but would be 
moved with pity and compassion toward 



C, Of the temptation that Two years before 

he had through mice, his death, when he 

whereof the Lord did com, was at S> Damian s 

fort him and did certify {n a cemin 
him of His kingdom. 



ties and was exceeding sore afflicted by the 
infirmity of his eyes, so as that by the space 
of sixty days and more he could not see the 
light of day nor even the light of fire, it came 
to pass by divine permission that for increase 
of his affliction and his merit so many mice 
did come into the cell as that running over 
him and about him by night and day they 
allowed him neither to pray nor to rest. Yea, 
when he did eat, they came upon his table 
and did infest him in multitudes, whereby 
both he and his companions did know mani 
festly that it was a temptation of the devil. 
176 



Saint Francis of Assist 

The Blessed Francis seeing himself thus 
tormented by so many afflictions, on a certain 
night, moved with pity of his own case, said 
within himself: "Lord, look upon me and 
succour me in mine infirmities that I may 
endure them in patience." 

And straightway it was said unto him in 
spirit : " Tell me, brother, if a certain man in 
return for these thine infirmities and tribula 
tions would give thee a treasure so great and 
precious as that in respect of that mighty 
treasure the whole earth were as nought, 
wouldst thou not greatly rejoice thereat ? " 
And the Blessed Francis made answer : 
" Great, verily, O Lord, would be that trea 
sure, and full precious, yea, altogether admir 
able and desirable." 

And again he heard One saying unto him : 
"Therefore, brother, be glad and rejoice in 
thine infirmities and tribulations, and as for 
the rest, take thou no more heed than if thou 
hadst already entered into My Kingdom ! " 

And rising up in the morning he said unto 
his companions : " If the Emperor should 
give a whole realm to one of his servants, 
would not that servant rejoice greatly ? But 
and if he should give him his whole Empire, 
would he not much more rejoice ? " More 
over he said unto them : " Therefore meet 
is it that I rejoice greatly in mine infirmi- 
177 M 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

ties and tribulations, and take comfort in the 
Lord, giving thanks unto God the Father and 
His only Son our Lord Jesus Christ and to 
the Holy Ghost of so great grace as the Lord 
hath done me, to wit, that He hath con 
descended unto me His unworthy servant 
still living in the flesh, to certify me as con 
cerning His Kingdom. Whence am I fain 
unto His praise and our consolation and the 
edification of our neighbour, to make a new 
song of praise as concerning those creatures 
of the Lord whereof we do every day make 
use and without whom we are not able to 
live, and in the which mankind doth sorely 
offend his Creator. For continually do we 
show ourselves ungrateful for so great grace 
and so many blessings, not praising the Lord 
our Creator and giver of all good things as 
we ought." 

And sitting down he began to meditate 
awhile and afterward he said : " Most higb^ 
almighty and most gracious Lord" and the rest, 
and made music thereupon, and did teach his 
companions how they should say and sing the 
same. 

For his spirit as at that time was in so great 
comfort and sweetness that he was fain to send 
for brother Pacifico that in the world was 
called the King of Verse and the right cour 
teous Doctor of Singers, and he was fain to 
178 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

give him sundry of the brethren to go with 
him throughout the world preaching and sing 
ing the praises of the Lord. For he said he 
would that he among them which did know 
best how to preach should first preach unto 
the people, and that after the preaching all 
should sing together the praises of the Lord 
as it were minstrels of the Lord. 

And when the Lauds were ended, he would 
that the preacher should say unto the people : 
" We be the minstrels of the Lord, and this 
largesse do we crave of you, to wit, that ye 
shall be in the state of true repentance." 
And saith he : " For what be the servants of 
God but certain minstrels of His that so lift 
up the hearts of men and move them to 
spiritual gladness ? " 

And specially did he say this of the brethren 
Minor, that are given unto the people of God 
for the salvation thereof. 



179 



Saint Francis of Assisi 



THE TENTH PART, OF THE 
SPIRIT OF PROPHECY, 

CL And first, how he did AFTER that the 
foretell that peace would Blessed Francis had 
be made between the compose d the said 
Bishop and the High Lauds of thfi cra _ 
Bailiff of Assisi in virtue , ,., 

of the Lauds that he had <"*** Q he M f 
made as concerning the cal1 The Son g of 
creatures, the which he the Sun, it came 
did make be sung by his to pass that a great 
companions before them. dissension arose be 
twixt the Bishop 

and the High Bailiff of the city of Assisi, in 
such sort that the Bishop did excommunicate 
the High Bailiff, and the High Bailiff made 
be proclaimed that none should sell aught to 
the Bishop nor buy anything of him nor 
enter into any contract whatsoever with him. 
The Blessed Francis what time he was 
thus sick and had heard this, was moved to pity 
upon them, and most of all for that none did 
interpose betwixt them to make peace. And 
he saith unto his companions : " Great shame 
is it unto us servants of God that the Bishop 
and the High Bailiff do thus hate one another, 
and that none doth interpose to make them at 
peace." And straightway he did make a verse 
180 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

in the said Lauds upon that occasion, saying 
thus : 

" Praised be Thou, O my Lord, of them that 

do show forgiveness for love of Thee, 
And do endure sickness and tribulation. 
Yea, blessed be they that shall endure in peace 
For of Thee, O Thou most highest, shall they 
be crowned" 

Afterward, he called one of his companions 
and saith unto him : " Go to the High 
Bailiff, and tell him on my behalf to come 
unto the Bishop s house, himself with the 
magnates of the City and as many more as he 
can bring with him." 

And when the brother was gone, he said 
unto other twain of his companions : " Go ye 
unto the presence of the Bishop and the High 
Bailiff and the others that are with them, and 
chant ye the Song of Brother Sun, and I have 
trust in the Lord that He will forthwith 
humble their hearts and that they shall 
thereby be brought back to their former love 
and friendship." 

And when all were assembled together in 
the Piazza of the cloister of the episcopate, 
those two brethren rose up and one of them 
said : " The Blessed Francis in his sickness hath 
made a Lauds of the Lord as concerning His 
181 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

creatures to the praise of the Lord Himselt 
and to the edification of our neighbour. 
Whence he doth beseech you that ye will 
hearken thereunto with great devoutness." 
And therewithal they did begin to say and 
sing the same. 

But the High Bailiff straightway rose up 
with hands and arms joined together and did 
hearken intently thereunto as unto the Gospel 
of the Lord with exceeding great devotion 
and with many tears, for great faith had he 
and devotion toward the Blessed Francis. 

And when the Lauds of the Lord were 
ended, the High Bailiff said before them all : 
" In truth I say unto you that not only my 
Lord Bishop whom I do desire and ought to 
have for my Lord, but were it one that had 
slain mine own brother or my son, him would 
I forgive ! " And so saying, he did fling him 
down at the Bishop s feet and said unto him : 
"Behold, I am ready in all things to make 
satisfaction unto thee as thou shalt please, for 
the love of our Lord Jesus Christ and of His 
servant, the Blessed Francis ! " 

But the Bishop accepting him, did lift him 
up with his hands and said unto him : 
" According unto mine office meet is it that 
I be humble, and for that by nature I be 
swift to wrath meet is it also that thou shouldst 
pardon me." And on this wise with great 
182 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

kindness and love did they embrace and 
kiss the one the other. 

But the brethren were amazed and rejoiced 
beholding that which the Blessed Francis had 
foretold as to their concord thus fulfilled to 
the letter. And all they that were present, 
did ascribe all this as a miracle exceeding 
great unto the merits of the Blessed Francis, 
that the Lord had so suddenly visited them 
and that from so great discord and scandal 
they had returned to so great concordance 
without recalling a single word that had been 
spoken. 

But we that were with the Blessed Francis 
do bear witness that when he did say of aught 
"Thus and thus will it be," the same did 
always come to pass to the letter, and so 
many and so great things of this kind have we 
seen that it would be long to write them or to 
tell. 



CII. How he foresaw the THERE was a cer- 

fall of a brother that would t a j n brother, out- 

not confess under the pre- war dly of honest and 

tence of silence. h Q j y conversat i ori) 

that day and night did seem to be intent upon 
prayer, and did so straitly observe continual 
silence as that sometimes when he did confess 
him to the priest, he made his confession by 
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Saint Francis of Assist 

certain signs and not by words. For so 
devout and fervent in the love of God did he 
seem to be, that when he was sitting at times 
with the brethren albeit he spake not, he 
would natheless rejoice greatly both inwardly 
and outwardly in the hearing of good words, 
whereby he did often draw other brethren to 
devoutness. 

But when he had persisted for many years 
in conversation of this kind, it came to pass 
that the Blessed Francis came to the place 
wherein he abode. Who, when he heard 
of his conversation from the brethren, said 
unto them : " Know ye of a truth that this is 
a temptation of the devil, forasmuch as he is 
not minded to confess." In the meantime 
the Minister General came thither to visit the 
Blessed Francis, and did begin to commend 
him before the Blessed Francis, and the 
Blessed Francis saith unto him : " Believe me, 
brother, forasmuch as that brother is led and 
deceived of an evil spirit." 

Said the Minister General : " Marvellous 
seemeth it unto me and as it were incredible, 
how this may be in a man that hath so many 
signs and works of holiness." And the 
Blessed Francis said unto him, " Prove him, 
saying unto the brother, c Brother, it is wholly 
my will that thou confess twice or at least once 
in a week. " 



Saint Francis of Assist 

But he set his finger on his mouth, shaking 
his head, and showing by signs that he would 
in no wise do this by reason of his love of 
silence. But the minister fearing to scanda 
lise him, let him go. And not many days 
after, that brother did of his own will with 
draw from the Order and return unto the 
world wearing the habit of a layman. 

But it came to pass one day, when twain of 
the companions of the Blessed Francis were 
walking by a certain way, they came over 
against him where he was walking alone as a 
pilgrim exceeding poor. And having com 
passion upon him they said : " O unhappy 
one, where is thine honest and holy conversa 
tion ? For thou wouldst not speak and show 
thyself unto the brethren, and now thou goest 
roaming up and down the world as a man that 
knoweth not God." 

But he did begin to speak unto them, 
swearing many times " By my faith " like as 
do men of this world, and they said unto him: 
" Unhappy man, wherefore swearest thou 
c By thy faith like unto laymen, seeing that 
thou didst keep silence not only from idle 
words, but from all ? " 

And so they let him go, and a little there 
after he died, and greatly did we marvel when 
we saw how that was true to the letter which 
the Blessed Francis had foretold concerning 
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Saint Francis of Assist 

him at the time when that unhappy one was 
held by the brethren to be a saint. 



GUI. -Of him that did AT the time when 

weep before the Blessed nO ne was received 

Francis that he might be into the Order with- 

received into the Order, Qut the leaye of the 

Blessed Francis, a certain son of a nobleman 
of Lucca came with many others wishing 
to enter the Order, to the Blessed Francis 
that was then sick in the palace of the Bishop 
of Assisi. 

And when all they were presented unto the 
Blessed Francis, this one bowed him before 
him and began to weep sore, beseeching him 
that he might be received. The Blessed 
Francis looking straitly upon him, said : " O 
wretched and carnal man, wherefore dost thou 
lie unto the Holy Ghost and unto me ? 
Thou dost weep carnally, not spiritually ! " 
And when he had said this, forthwith came 
his kinsmen on horses without the palace wish 
ing to take and carry him back. But he, 
when he heard the clattering of horses did 
look forth through a certain window and saw 
his kinsmen and did forthwith go down unto 
them and as the Blessed Francis had foreseen, 
did return into the world with them. 



186 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

CIV. Of a Priest s vine AT the church of 
yard that was despoiled of g. Fabian that is 
his grapes by occasion o? n jgh Rieti, the 
the Blessed Francis. Blessed Francis 

made abode with a poor priest by reason of 
the infirmity of his eyes. At that time also 
was Pope Honorius at that city with all his 
court. Whence it came to pass that many 
Cardinals and other great clerks visited the 
Blessed Francis as it were daily by reason 
of the devotion that they had unto him. 

Now this church had a little vineyard nigh 
the house wherein the Blessed Francis abode, 
and in the house was a door whereby well- 
nigh all they that visited him did enter into 
the vineyard, and the more for that the grapes 
were then ripe and the place was right 
passing pleasant; so that by this occasion 
the vineyard was demolished as it were and 
despoiled of the grapes. 

Wherefore the priest began to be scandalised 
thereat, saying: "Albeit the vineyard be 
little, yet did I gather therein enough for my 
necessity, and behold, this year have I lost 

it!" 

Hearing the which, the Blessed Francis 
made him be called and said unto him : " Sir, 
be not further troubled, forasmuch as we can 
not now do other, but trust in the Lord, 
seeing that for me His little servant, He is 
187 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

able wholly to restore unto thee thy loss. Tell 
me, how many salme of wine hadst thou what 
time thou hadst most out of thy vineyard ? " 
The priest made answer, "Father, thirteen 
salme." Said the Blessed Francis unto him, 
" Henceforth be not aggrieved, nor by reason 
hereof speak a reproachful word unto any, but 
have faith in the Lord and in my words, and 
if so be that thou hast less than a score salme, 
I will have it made good unto thee." And 
thenceforth the priest held his peace and was 
quiet, and in the time of vintage by divine 
dispensation he had twenty salme of wine out 
of that vineyard, and no less. And the priest 
marvelled greatly and all they that heard 
hereof, saying that had the vineyard been full 
of grapes, it was impossible that there should 
be twenty salme of wine therein. 

But we that were with him do bear witness 
that in this as in all else that he spake, his 
word was always fulfilled unto the letter. 



CV Of the soldiers of WHEN the Blessed 
Perugia that did hinder his Francis was preach 
ing in the place at 

Perugia, and much people was assembled 
therein, behold the soldiers of Perugia did 
begin to career through the Piazza upon their 
horses and did play with their arms and hinder 
1*8 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

his preaching, and albeit some of them that 
were present did rebuke them, yet not for this 
would they leave of their sport. 

Wherefore turning toward them the Blessed 
Francis with much fervency of spirit said unto 
them : " Hear ye and understand the things 
that through me His little servant, the Lord 
doth announce unto you, and say not, c We 
will hearken not unto him for that he is of 
Assisi. " But this he said for that there is an 
ancient hatred betwixt them of Perugia and 
them of Assisi. 

And he saith unto them : " The Lord hath 
exalted ye above all your neighbours, and 
therefore ought ye the more willingly to 
acknowledge your Creator by humbling you 
not unto God alone but likewise unto your 
neighbours. But your heart is lifted up in 
pride, and ye do waste your neighbours and 
slay many ; wherefore I say unto you that 
save ye be quickly converted unto God and do 
make satisfaction of those things wherein ye 
have offended, the Lord which leaveth nought 
unpunished, to sorer vengeance upon ye and 
to your punishment and to your shame shall 
make ye rise up one against another, and 
in the sedition that shall be raised and in civil 
war so great tribulation shall ye suffer as never 
could your neighbours wreak upon ye ! " 

For on such wise did the Blessed Francis 
189 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

never hold his peace as concerning the ill- 
doings of the people when he preached, but 
did rebuke all, publicly and manfully. For 
the Lord had given unto him such grace that 
all they who did see and hear him, of whatso 
ever estate or condition they might be, did so 
greatly fear and reverence him by reason of 
the abundant grace that he had of God, that 
howsoever sore they might be rebuked of him, 
yet were they always edified by his words and 
were either converted unto the Lord or were 
inwardly pricked of their conscience. 

And it came to pass by divine permission 
that after a few days a scandal arose betwixt 
the soldiers and the people, such as that 
the people did thrust out the soldiers beyond 
their city. And the soldiers together with the 
Church that did help them did lay waste their 
fields and vineyards and trees, and all the hurt 
that they could do unto the people they did. 
And in like manner, the people did waste 
all the goods of the soldiers, and thus were 
both people and soldiers punished according to 
the word of S. Francis. 



CVL How he did fore- A CERTAIN brother, 
see the hidden temptation passing spiritual and 
of a certain brother. f a m i 1 i a r with the 

Blessed Francis, for many days had suffered 
190 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

the most grievous suggestions of the devil, in 
such sort as that he was brought as it were 
into the very depth of despair. And every 
day was he so sore stung thereby that he was 
shamed so often to confess the same, and for 
this reason did he afflict himself overmuch 
by abstinence and vigils and tears and dis 
ciplines. 

And it came to pass by divine dispensation 
that the Blessed Francis did go unto that 
place, and on a certain day when that brother 
was walking with the Blessed Francis, the 
Blessed Francis did perceive by the Holy 
Spirit his tribulation and temptation, and 
withdrawing him a little from the brother 
that did also go with them, he joined himself 
unto that sore troubled one, and said unto 
him : u My best-beloved brother, I will that 
henceforth thou be not bound to confess these 
suggestions of the devil, and fear not, for that 
no hurt have they done unto thy soul, but by 
my leave say thou seven Pater Nosters so often 
as thou shalt be in tribulation." 

And the brother did rejoice greatly of this 
word that he spake, to wit, that he should not 
be bound to confess these things, for that 
hereby was he most afflicted. Natheless, 
however, exceeding greatly was he amazed 
seeing that the Blessed Francis had thus per 
ceived that which was known only unto those 
191 



Saint Francis of Assist 

priests unto whom he had confessed the 
same. 

And forthwith was he delivered from that 
tribulation in such sort that by the grace of 
God and the merits of S. Francis, he did abide 
thenceforth in the greatest peace and quiet, 
and for that the saint had hoped it would so 
be, had he without peril absolved him from 
confession. 



CVIL Of these things WHEN about the 
that he foretold as con- t i me o f his death a 
cerning brother Bernard, certajn daint dish 

f n tfn7 al t! th T had been made 

fulfilled as he said. ^ for ^ he 

remembered him of brother Bernard that was 
the first brother he had, and saith unto his 
companions : " This dish is good for brother 
Bernard." And straightway he made him be 
called unto him. Who, when he came, sate 
upon the bed whereon the saint was lying. 
And saith brother Bernard : " Father, I do 
beseech thee that thou give me thy bless 
ing, and show love for me, seeing that if thou 
show fatherly affection toward me, I do believe 
that God Himself and all the brethren will 
love me the better therefor." 

The Blessed Francis could not see him, for 
that by the space of many days before he had 
192 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

lost the sight of his eyes, but stretching forth 
his right hand, he set it upon the head of 
brother Egidio that was third brother, believ 
ing that he had set the same upon the head of 
brother Bernard that sate next him. And 
straightway perceiving the same by the 
Holy Spirit he said : " This is not the head 
of my brother Bernard." 

Then brother Bernard drew him nigher 
yet, and the Blessed Francis setting his hand 
upon his head gave him his blessing, saying 
unto one of his companions : " Write that 
which I shall say unto thee. The first brother 
that the Lord did give unto me was brother 
Bernard, that did first begin and did most 
perfectly fulfil the perfection of the Holy 
Gospel by giving all his goods unto the poor, 
by reason whereof and by reason of many 
other prerogatives I am bound to love him 
better than any brother in the whole Order. 
Whence I will and enjoin so far as I am able, 
that whosoever shall be Minister General shall 
love and honour him as myself. Let the 
ministers, moreover, and all the brethren of 
the whole Religion hold him in my stead." 

And hereby were brother Bernard and the 
other brethren much comforted. For the 
blessed Francis, having regard unto the ex 
ceeding great perfection of this same brother 
Bernard, aid prophesy concerning him in the 
193 N 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

presence of sundry brethren, saying : " I say 
unto you that unto brother Bernard have been 
given certain of the great and most subtile 
devils to exercise him, the which do send upon 
him manifold tribulations and temptations. 
But the merciful Lord nigh upon his end will 
take away from him all tribulation and temp 
tation, and will set his spirit and his body in 
so passing peace and comfort as that all the 
brethren who shall see these things, shall marvel 
greatly, and hold it for a great miracle ; and 
in this quiet and with the consolation of every 
man shall he pass over unto the Lord." 

But all these things not without passing 
wonderment of all the brethren that did hear 
them from the Blessed Francis were thereafter 
fulfilled to the letter in brother Bernard him 
self. For brother Bernard being sick unto 
death was in so great peace and comfort of 
spirit that he was fain not to lie down, or if 
he lay, he lay as it were sitting, and not the 
lightest fume arising to his head did hinder his 
meditation on God by sleep or by reason of 
any illusion. 

And if at any time this did befall him, 
straightway he would rise up and smite him 
self, saying : " What was it ? Wherefore did 
I think thus ? " Nought would he take by 
way of medicine, but would say unto him that 
offered it : " Hinder me not ! " 
194 



Saint Francis of Assist 

And that he might die even yet more freely 
and peacefully he did transfer all care for his 
body from himself into the hands of a certain 
brother that was a leech, saying : " I am fain 
to have no care of eating nor of drinking, but 
I commit everything unto thee. If thou 
givest it unto me I will take it, if not, I will 
not ask for it." 

From the time that he began to be sick, he 
wished always to have a priest anigh him until 
his dying hour, and whensoever aught did 
come into his mind that was a burden to his 
conscience, he did straightway confess him. 

But after his death he did become white 
and his flesh soft, and he did seem as though 
he smiled. Whence comelier was he dead 
than alive, and more delighted were all to look 
upon him dead than alive, for that he did seem 
verily a saint that smiled. 

CVIII.-How, nigh his IN the week that 
death, he sent word unto the Blessed Fnmds 
S Clara that she should did h 

see him, and now it was T j 01 / r 

fulfilled after his death, La ?7 Clara > the first 

sapling of the poor 

Sisters of S. Damian of Assisi, the chiefest 
rival of the Blessed Francis in the observance 
Of Gospel perfection, fearing lest she should 
die before him, for that at that time both lay 
95 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

grievously sick, wept most bitterly and would 
not be comforted, for that she thought she 
should not see before her departure her one 
father after God, the Blessed Francis, her 
comforter and master and her first founder in 
the grace of God. 

And therefore did she signify this unto the 
Blessed Francis by a certain brother, which 
when the holy man did hear, forasmuch as 
he did love her above all other with fatherly 
affection, he was moved with pity toward 
her. But considering that the thing she 
would, to wit, to see him, could not be 
brought about, for her consolation and that of 
all the sisterhood he did write unto her his 
blessing in a letter, and did absolve her of all 
defect in case she had done aught against his 
admonition and against the commandments 
and counsels of the Son of God. And so that 
she should lay aside all sadness and grief, he 
said unto the brother whom he had sent : 
"Go and tell sister Clara to lay aside all 
sorrow and sadness for that she cannot see me 
just now, forasmuch as in truth let her know 
before her departure both she herself and my 
sisters shall see me and shall be greatly com 
forted as concerning me." 

But it came to pass when a little afterward 

the Blessed Francis had passed away in the 

night, that on the morrow the whole people 

196 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

and clergy of Assisi came and took away his 
holy body from the place where he had passed 
away with hymns and lauds, each one bearing 
aloft branches of trees, and thus did they carry 
the same by the will of the Lord to S. Damian s, 
so that the word might be fulfilled which the 
Lord had spoken by the Blessed Francis for 
the comfort of His daughters and His hand 
maidens. 

^ And removing the iron lattice whereby the 
sisters were wont to communicate and to hear 
the word of God, the brethren took th? holy 
body from the bier and held it between their 
arms for a long space at the opening until that 
the Lady Clara and her sisters had been com 
forted by the sight thereof albeit they were over 
come and full of sorrow and many tears seeing 
themselves made orphans of the consolations 
and admonitions of so dear a father. 



CIX,-How he did fore- ONE day when he 
tell that his body would was j j sick 

death the Bish P s house 

at Assisi, a certain 

spiritual brother said unto him by way of a 
jape half laughingly : " For how much wouldst 
thou sell all thy sack-cloths unto the Lord ? 
Many baldachins and cloths of silk shall here 
after be set upon this little body of thine ! " 
197 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

for at that time he had his cassock covered 
with sack-cloth and even his coverlid was also 
of sack-cloth. 

And the Blessed Francis made answer, or 
rather, not he but the Holy Spirit by him, and 
with much fervour and gladness of spirit said : 
" Thou speakest sooth, seeing that so will it 
be for the praise of my God and by His 
grace ! " 



THE ELEVENTH PART, OF THE 
DIVINE PROVIDENCE IN OUT 
WARD THINGS RELATING UNTO 
HIM, 

CX. And first, how the WHILST the Blessed 
Lord did provide for the Francis was at the 
brethren sitting at a sorry hermitage of Fonte 
table with a leech. p a lumbo near Rieti, 

the eye-leech one day did visit him for the 
infirmity of his eyes. And when he had 
stayed there some space and would now be 
gone, the Blessed Francis said unto one of his 
companions : " Go and give the leech to eat 
of the best." His companion made answer 
unto him : " Father, we be shamed to say 
that we be so poor just now that we are 
198 



Saint Francis of Assist 

ashamed to invite him to eat." The Blessed 
Francis thereupon said unto his companions : 
" O ye of little faith, let me not have to speak 
twice unto you ! " And the leech saith unto 
the Blessed Francis : " Brother, for that the 
brethren be poor, the more willing am I to 
eat with them." For that leech was exceed 
ing rich, and albeit the Blessed Francis and 
the companions had oftentimes invited him, 
yet never would he eat with them. 

The brethren therefore went and made 
ready the table, and with shame did set 
thereon a little bread and wine and a little 
dish of herbs that they had made ready for 
themselves. And whilst they were sitting at 
this sorry table, so soon as they had begun to 
eat, behold, there was a knocking at the door 
of the place, and when one of the brethren 
went and opened the door, behold, there stood 
a woman carrying a great vessel full of fair 
bread and fishes and pasties of crevisses, and 
honey and grapes that had been sent to 
the Blessed Francis by the Lady of a castle 
some seven miles away from the place. 

When they saw this, the brethren and the 
leech did mightily marvel and rejoice, having 
regard unto the holiness of S. Francis and 
ascribing it all to his merits. And saith the 
leech unto the brethren : " Neither you nor I 
do meetly acknowledge this man s holiness ! " 
199 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

CXI. Of the fish that he ANOTHER time, 
did fancy in his sickness. when he was griev 
ous sick in the Bishop s palace of Assisi, the 
brethren did beseech him that he would eat 
somewhat. Who made answer : " No will 
have I to eat, but and if I could have a bit of 
chub, haply I could eat a little." And just as he 
spake, behold, a certain man came carrying a 
tray whereon were three large chub fairly 
garnished with roundels of crevisses, whereof 
the holy father did gladly eat. 

And this did brother Gerard that was 
minister at Rieti send him. And the brethren, 
marvelling on the divine Providence, gave 
praises unto the Lord that had made provision 
for His servant in these meats that it was im 
possible could be had at Assisi at that time, for 
that it was winter. 



CXIL Of the meats and WHILST that he was 
cloth that he did fancy j n t h e p l ace of 
about the time of his S> M of the 

Angels, sick of the 

ailment whereof he died, he one day called his 
companions saying : " Ye know how that the 
Lady Jacqueline of Settesoli was and is exceed 
ing faithful and devoted unto me and unto our 
Religion, and I do therefore believe that she 
would hold it as a great grace and consolation 
200 



Saint Francis of Assist 

were we to notify her of mine estate, and 
specially send her word that she send me some 
religious cloth that is like unto ashes in 
colour, and with the cloth let her send also of 
the marchpane that many a time she hath 
made for me in the city." That confection 
the Romans do call mostacciuolo^ and is made 
of almonds and sugar and other things. 

For that lady was right spiritual, but a 
widow of the best and richest in all Rome, 
that by the merits and preaching of the 
Blessed Francis did obtain such grace of the 
Lord as that evermore was she so full of tears 
and devotion for the love and sweetness of 
Christ that she did seem as it were a second 
Magdalene. 

They therefore wrote the letter as the holy 
man had said, and a certain brother did go 
seek another brother to carry the letter to the 
foresaid Lady, and straightway there was a 
knocking at the door. And when one of the 
brethren had opened the door, behold, there 
was the Lady Jacqueline that had come in 
great haste to visit the Blessed Francis. 
Whom when one of the brethren did recog 
nise, he went in haste unto the Blessed Francis, 
and with much gladness did announce unto 
him how the Lady Jacqueline had come from 
Rome with her son and many others to visit 
him. And saith he : " What shall we do, 
201 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

father ? Shall we let her enter and come 
unto thee ? " 

But this he said for that by the will of 
S. Francis it was ordained that at that place, 
by reason of the great seemliness and devotion 
thereof, no woman was allowed to enter the 
cloister. And the Blessed Francis said : " This 
regulation is not to be observed in respect of 
that Lady, whom so great faith and devotion 
hath brought hither from parts so far away." 

The Lady therefore did come in unto the 
Blessed Francis shedding many tears in his 
presence. And, a right marvellous thing, she 
did bring with her the shroud-cloth, to wit, 
the cloth of ashen-grey colour for his habit, 
and all the things that were contained in the 
letter had she brought with her as though she 
had received the letter. 

And saith the Lady to the brethren : " My 
brothers, it was said unto me in spirit whilst 
that I was praying : c Go and visit thy father 
the Blessed Francis, and haste thee and tarrv 
not, for and thou tarriest long thou wilt not 
find him alive : and carry unto him such a 
cloth for his habit, and such other things and 
confections, and likewise take with thee a 
great quantity of wax for lights, and of incense 
also." For all these things save the incense 
were contained in the letter that should have 
been sent. 

202 



Saint Francis of Assist 

And thus it came to pass that He which 
did inspire the Kings that they should go 
with their gifts to honour His Son on the day 
of His Nativity, did also inspire this noble and 
holy Lady that she should go with her gifts to 
honour His best-beloved servant in the days of 
his death, yea, rather, of his true nativity. 

That Lady, therefore, had made ready the 
marchpane whereof the holy father did desire 
to eat, but very little did he eat thereof, foras 
much as he was fast failing and did draw nigh 
unto death. Howbeit he had many candles 
made that after his death should burn before 
his most holy body, and of the cloth did the 
brethren make for him the habit wherewith he 
was buried. Moreover he bade the brethren 
sew a sack-cloth thereupon in token and 
in ensample of humility and of our Lady 
Poverty, and in that week wherein the Lady 
Jacqueline did come, did our most holy father 
pass away unto the Lord. 



203 



Saint Francis of Assist 



THE TWELFTH PART, OF HIS 
LOVE TOWARD CREATURES AND 
OF CREATURES TOWARD HIM, 

CXIII And first, of the WHOLLY wrapped 
love that he had specially up j n t h e \ Qve of 
toward the birds that are God the Blessed 
called crested larks, for T? j-j r i 
that in them was the Jnmcis did perfectly 
similitude of a good Discern the goodness 
Religious. * (jr d not Onl 7 m 

his own soul now 

adorned with every perfection of godliness, 
but also in every creature whatsoever, by 
reason whereof he was affected with a singular 
and overflowing love toward the creatures, 
more especially those wherein seemed him to 
be a figure of aught that is of God or aught 
pertaining unto Religion. Whence above all 
other birds did he love the crested lark, the 
little bird that in the vulgar tongue is called 
lodola capellata^ and he would say of her : 
" Sister lark hath a hood like the Religious, 
and an humble bird is she for she gladly goeth 
by the way to find her a few grains of corn 
and so she findeth them even among the 
dung, she taketh them therefrom and eateth 
them. When she soareth she doth praise God 
right sweetly, even as the good Religious that 
204 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

doth look down on earthly things, whose con 
versation is evermore in Heaven, and whose 
intent is always toward the praise of God. 
Her garments, to wit, her feathers, are like 
unto the earth and she giveth ensample unto 
the Religious that they wear not delicate and 
gaudy garments but such as be vile in price 
and colour even as the earth is viler than the 
other elements." 

And for that he did perceive these simili 
tudes in them, he did most gladly look upon 
them. Therefore it pleased the Lord that 
these most holy birdies should show some 
token of the love they bare unto him in the 
hour of his death. For on the Saturday even 
ing after vespers, before the night wherein he 
passed away unto the Lord, a great multitude 
of birds of this kind that are called larks came 
above the roof of the house wherein he lay, 
and flying a little way off did make a wheel 
after the manner of a circle round the roof, 
and by their sweet singing did seem to be 
praising the Lord along with him. 



105 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

CXIV. That he would WE that were with 
fain have persuaded the t h e Blessed Francis 
Emperorto make a special and haye wHtten 
law that in the Nativity <i . u , , 
of our Lord men should theSC thln S S d r bear 
make good provision for witness that often- 
the birds, for the ox and tlmes have we heard 
the ass and for the poor. him saying : " And 

I ever have speech 

with the Emperor, I will entreat him and 
persuade him and tell him that for the love of 
God and of me he ought to make a special 
law that none snare nor kill our Sisters the 
larks nor do any evil unto them. In like 
manner, that all the Mayors of the cities and 
the Lords of the castles and towns be bound 
every year on the day of the Nativity of our 
Lord, to compel their men to throw wheat 
and other grain along the roads beyond the 
cities and walled towns, so as that our Sisters 
the larks may have whereof to eat, and other 
birds also on a day of so passing solemnity, 
and that for reverence of the Son of God 
whom on such a night the most Blessed 
Virgin Mary did lay down in the stall betwixt 
the ox and the ass, whosoever hath an ox and 
an ass be bound on that night to provide them 
provender the best that may be, and in like 
manner also that on such a day all poor folk 
should be given their fill of good victual by 
the rich." 

206 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

For the Blessed Francis had a greater 
reverence for Christmas than for other fes 
tivals of our Lord, saying : " After that the 
Lord was born for us, it did become a matter 
of necessity that we should be saved." Where 
fore he would that every Christian on that 
day should exult in the Lord, and that for the 
love of Him which did give Himself unto us, 
all ought not only to make abundant largesse 
unto the poor, but likewise also unto the 
beasts and birds. 



CXV. Of the love and WHEN he had come 

obedience of the fire unto to t h e hermitage of 

him what time he made Fonte Pa l umbo 

him be burnt by cautery. nfgh Ried for ^ 

cure of the infirmity of his eyes, whereunto 
he was compelled on his obedience by the 
Lord Bishop of Ostia and by brother Elias the 
Minister General, one day the leech came unto 
him. 

Who, after examining his infirmity, said 
unto the Blessed Francis that he wished to 
make a cautery over the cheek as far as the 
eyebrow of the eye that was worse than the 
other. But the Blessed Francis would not 
that he should begin the operation save 
brother Elias were there, for that he had said 
he would fain be present when the leech 
207 



Saint Francis of Assist 

should begin that operation, for ^he Blessed 
Francis was afeard, and right grievous was it 
unto him that he should have so great 
solicitude about himself ; wherefore he would 
that the Minister General should be the one 
to have everything done as concerning him. 

When, therefore, he had waited for him, 
and he came not by reason of the many hin 
drances that he had, the Blessed Francis gave 
the leech leave to do as he would. And when 
the iron was set in the fire for making of the 
cautery, the Blessed Francis being fain to 
comfort his spirit lest he should be overmuch 
afeard, spake thus unto the fire : " Fire, my 
brother, noble and useful amongst other 
creatures, be thou gracious unto me in this 
hour, seeing that of old have I loved thee and 
yet will love thee for the love of Him that did 
create thee. Earnestly, moreover, do I pray 
the Creator that did create both thee and me, 
that He will so temper thine heat as that I 
may be able to abide it." And when he had 
ended his prayer he did sign the fire with the 
sign of the Cross. 

But we that were with him at that time 
did all flee away for pity and compassion 
toward him, and only the leech did remain 
with him. But when the cautery was made 
we returned unto him, who said : "O feeble- 
hearted and of little faith, wherefore did ye 
208 



Saint Francis of Assist 

flee ? In truth I say unto you that I felt 
neither pain nor any heat of the fire. Yea, 
and it be not now well seared, let him again 
sear it better ! " 

And thereat did the leech marvel greatly ; 
saying : " My brethren, I tell you that I 
should fear, not only for him that is so feeble 
and ailing, but for any man, even were he the 
strongest, lest he should not be able to endure 
so great a cautery ; yet truly did this man never 
flinch nor show any the least sign of pain." 

For it was necessary that all the veins from 
the ear as far as the eyebrow should be cut, 
yet, nevertheless was he thereby nothing 
benefited. In like manner did another leech 
pierce both his ears with a hot iron, yet naught 
did he profit thereby. 

Nor is it a marvel that the fire and other 
creatures were at times obedient unto him 
and did reverence him, for, as we that were 
with him have full ofttimes seen, he had so 
great affection toward them and did so greatly 
delight in them, and his spirit was moved with 
so great pity and compassion for them, that he 
would not see them treated unfairly, and he 
would so talk with them with gladness both 
inward and outward, as if they had reason, 
whence by occasion thereof was he oftentimes 
rapt up to God. 



209 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

CXVL That he would AMONG all the in- 

not quench nor allow to f er ior and insensible 

be quenched the fire that creatureSi he had a 

did burn his hosen. spedal affection to _ 

ward fire, by reason of the beauty and useful 
ness thereof ; wherefore he would never hinder 
it in doing the office thereof. For once on a 
time, when he was sitting nigh the fire, with 
out his knowledge the fire did catch upon his 
linen cloths or hosen nigh the knee, and when 
he felt the heat thereof, he would not put it 
out. But his companion that did see his hosen 
afire ran unto him intending to quench the 
fire, but he forbade him, saying : " Nay, 
dearest brother, harm not the fire ! And 
thus would he not by no means that he should 
quench it. 

Howbeit, he went hastily to the brother 
that was his warden and fetched him to the 
Blessed Francis and he did forthwith against 
the will of the Blessed Francis put out the 
fire. Whence, however urgent were the 
necessity, he would never put out a fire nor 
a lamp nor a candle, with so great pity was 
he moved toward them. 

Moreover he would not that a brother 
should fling away a fire nor move a smoking 
log from place to place as is wont, but should 
simply set the same on the ground out of 
reverence to Him whose creature it is. 
210 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

CXVIL How he would WHILST that he 
never wear a pelt for that was keeping Lent at 
he had not allowed it to Monte Alverna,one 

day his companion, 

at the hour of eating together, did make ready 
a fire in the cell wherein he ate, and when he 
had kindled the fire went for the Holy Francis 
unto another cell wherein he was praying, 
carrying with him the Missal, so as that he 
might read to him the Gospel for the day, for 
he would always hear the Gospel that was 
read in the Missal for the day or ever he would 
eat when he could not hear Mass. 

And when he came to the cell wherein the 
fire had been kindled to eat, behold, the flame 
of the fire had already climbed up unto the roof 
of the cell and was burning it ; whereupon 
the companion began to put out the fire the 
best he might, but he could not do so single- 
handed. Howbeit the Blessed Francis would 
not help him, but took a certain pelt that he 
did wear over him of a night and went there 
with into the wood. 

Howbeit the brethren of the place that 
dwelt at a distance from the cell, so soon 
as they perceived that the cell was being burnt, 
came straightway and did quench the fire. 
The Blessed Francis did afterward return to 
eat, and when he had eaten, he said unto his 
companion : " Never more will I have that 

211 



Saint Francis of Assist 

pelt upon me, forasmuch as by reason of my 
covetousness I would not that brother fire 
should eat it." 



CXVIII. Ol the special NEXT to fire, he 
love that he had toward did specially love 
water and stones and wood wa ter, wherein is 
and flowers. figured holy peni 

tence and tribulation whereby the uncleannesses 
of the soul are washed away, and also the first 
ablution of the> soul that doth take place in 
the water of baptism. Whence whensoever 
he did wash his hands he would make choice 
of such a place as that the water which fell 
should not be trodden by his feet. Moreover 
when he did walk over stones, he would walk 
with great trembling and reverence for the 
love of him that is called " the Rock," whence, 
whensover he did repeat that word of the 
psalm : " Thou didst exalt me upon a rock," 
he would say out of his great reverence and 
devotion : " Under the foot of the rock hast 
Thou exalted me." 

The brother moreover, that did cut and 
make ready the wood for the fire, he bade 
that he should never cut up the whole of 
a tree, but should cut it in such sort as that of 
such a tree some part should remain whole for 
212 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

the love of Him that did work out our salva 
tion on the wood of the Cross. 

In like manner also he told the brother that 
did the garden not to dig the whole of the 
ground for eatable herbs only, but to leave 
some part of the ground for growing green 
herbs that in their due times produce the 
Brothers flowers for the love of Him that 
is called " the flower of the field " and " the 
lily of the valley." 

Yea, he said that brother gardener ought 
always to make a fair little garden in some 
part of the garden land, setting and planting 
therein of all sweet-smelling herbs and of all 
herbs that do bring forth fair flowers so as 
that in their time they might invite them that 
did look upon the herbs and flowers to praise 
the Lord. For every creature doth cry out 
saying : " God hath made me on account of 
thee, O man ! " 

Whence we that were with him saw that he 
did so greatly rejoice both inwardly and out 
wardly as it were in all things created, that in 
touching them or looking thereon his spirit 
did seem to be not upon earth but in Heaven. 
And by reason of the many consolations that 
he had and had aforetime had in the creatures, 
a little before his departure he did compose 
certain Praises of the Lord as concerning His 
213 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

creatures, to encourage the hearts of those that 
should hear them to the praise of God, and that 
the Lord might be praised of men in His 
creatures. 



CXI X. How he com- ABOVE all creatures 
mended the sun and the lacking reason, he 
fire above other creatures. did j ove the sun an d 

fire with most affection, for he would say : 
" In the morning when the sun ariseth, every 
man ought to praise God that did create him 
for our use, for that by him are our eyes 
enlightened by day ; but in the even when the 
night cometh, every man ought to praise Him 
for brother fire, for that by him are our eyes 
enlightened by night, for we be as it were all 
blind and the Lord by these two brethren doth 
enlumine our eyes ; and therefore specially for 
these and the other creatures whereof we do 
daily make use, ought we to praise the 
Creator." The which himself did always 
unto his dying day. 

Yea, when he was grieved of a sore infirmity 
he did begin to sing the Laudes Domini that 
he had made as concerning the creatures, and 
afterward did make his companions sing, so as 
that in meditating on the praise of God, he 
might forget his pains and the bitterness of his 
infirmities. 

214 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

And for that he did deem and say that the 
sun is fairer than other creatures and a nigher 
similitude of our Lord, and that the Lord 
Himself is called in Scripture the "Sun of 
justice," when he would give a title to the 
Lauds that he made of the creatures of the 
Lord, to wit, what time the Lord did certify 
him of His Kingdom, he did therefore call 
them "The Song of Brother Sun." 



CXX. These be the Most high, almighty 
Lauds of the Creatures and most gracious Lord, 
that he made what time Thine be the praises 
the Lord did certify him of a nd the glory an<l the 
His Kingdom. honour and every bless 

ing, for unto Thee alone, O most highest, do they 
belong, and no man is worthy to make mention of Thy 
Name. 

Praised be Thou, O Lord, of all Thy creatures 
and above all of Brother Sun, my lord, that doth 
illumine us with the dawning of the day. 

For fair is he and bright, and the brightness of his 
glory doth signify Thee, O Thou most highest. 

Praised be Thou, O my Lord, of Sister Moon and 
the stars that Thou hast shapen in the heavens, bright 
and precious and comely. 

Praised be Thou, O my Lord, of Brother Wind 
and the air, and of the clouds and the clear, and of 
all the times of the sky whereby Thou dost make pro 
vision for Thy creatures. 

215 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

Praised be Thou, O my Lord, of Sister Water, 
for manifold is her use, and humble is she and pre 
cious and chaste. 

Praised be Thou, O my Lord, of Brother Fire, by 
whom Thou dost lighten our darkness, and comely is 
he and joyful and masterful and strong. 

Praised be Thou, O my Lord, of Sister Earth our 
mother that doth cherish us and hath us in keeping, 
and doth bring forth fruit in abundance and flowers of 
many colours and the grass. 

Praised be Thou, O my Lord, of them that do 
show forgiveness unto others for love of Thee, and do 
endure sickness and tribulation. Tea, blessed be they 
that do endure in peace, for of Thee, O Thou most 
highest, shall they be crowned. 

Praised be Thou, O my Lord, of Sister Death, 
the death of the body from whom no man living may 
escape, but woe unto them that shall die in deadly sin, 
and blessed be they that shall walk according unto 
Thy most holy will, for unto them shall the second 
death do no hurt. 

Praise ye and bless my Lord and give thanks unto 
Him and serve Him in all humbleness. 



216 



Saint Francis of Assisi 



THE THIRTEENTH PART, OF HIS 
DEATH, AND THE JOY THAT HE 
SHOWED WHEN HE KNEW FOR 
CERTAIN THAT HE WAS NIGH 
UNTO DEATH, 

CXXI. And first, how he WHILST he was 

made answer to brother lying sick in the 

Elias that did rebuke him pa i ace o f the bishop- 
for showing so much toy. 



the hand of the Lord did seem made heavier 
than of wont upon him, the people of Assisi, 
fearing in case he should die in the night, lest 
the brethren should take away his most holy 
body and carry it away unto another city, 
made ordinance that every night diligent 
watch should be kept by their men in the 
circuit without the palace-wall. 

But the most holy father, that he might 
comfort his spirit lest he should at any time 
swoon by reason of the violence of the pain 
wherewith he was continually afflicted, did 
oftentimes in the day make the Laudes Domini 
be chanted throughout by his companions. 
The same also did he by night for the edifica 
tion and comfort of the lay-folk that were 
keeping watch without the palace on his 
account. 

217 



Saint Francis of Assist 

But brother Elias perceiving that the 
Blessed Francis in his sore sickness did thus 
comfort him and rejoice in the Lord, said unto 
him : " Dearest father, of all the cheerfulness 
thou dost manifest in this sickness on behalf 
of thyself and thy companions have I great 
comfort and edification, but albeit that the 
men of this city do reverence thee as a holy 
man, natheless, for that they do firmly believe 
thee to be full nigh unto thy death by reason 
of this thine incurable malady, when they 
hear Lauds of this kind chanted by day and 
night, they may haply say among themselves : 
c How cometh this man to manifest such 
cheerfulness when he is nigh his death ? He 
ought rather to be thinking about his death.* " 

The Blessed Francis said unto him : " Re- 
memberest thou, when thou didst see the 
vision at Foligno, how thou didst say unto 
me that a certain man had told thee that I 
should not live but two years longer ? Before 
that vision, thou sawest how by the grace of 
God that doth suggest every good thing unto 
the heart and doth set the same in the mouth 
of His faithful, I did oftentimes by day and 
night bethink me of mine end. But from the 
hour that thou didst see the vision, even yet 
more anxious was I to bethink me daily of 
my dying day." And straightway with great 
fervency of spirit saith he : " Give me leave, 
218 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

brother, to rejoice in the Lord and in His 
praises and in mine own infirmities, seeing 
that by the grace of the Holy Ghost, I am so 
joined and made one with my Lord, that by 
His mercy, well may I be glad in Him, Most 
Highest." 

CXXIL- How he did in* IN those days, in 
duce the leech to tell him the same palace, did 
how long he should live, a certain leech of 
Arezzo visit him, by name John Good, that 
was exceeding familiar with the Blessed 
Francis ; and the Blessed Francis did question 
him saying : " How seemeth thee, goodman 
leech, of this mine infirmity of hydropsy ? " 
For he would not call him by his right name 
for that he would not name the name of any 
that was called " good," out of reverence to 
the Lord which said : " None is good save 
God only." In like manner he would not 
call any " father " nor " master," nor so write 
in his letters, out of reverence to the Lord 
which said : " And call no man father upon 
earth, nor be ye called masters." 

And the leech saith unto him : " Brother, 
by the grace of God it shall be well with 
thee." Again the Blessed Francis said unto 
him : " Tell me the truth. How seemeth it 
unto thee ? Fear not to tell me, seeing that 
ZIQ 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

by the grace of God no craven am I that I 
should fear death, for by the grace of the 
Ploly Ghost that worketh with me, I am so 
made one with my Lord that to live or die 
am I equally content." 

The leech therefore said unto him : " Mani 
festly, father, by all rules of our leech-craft 
thine infirmity is incurable, and I do believe 
that either at the end of September or on the 
fourth of the Nones of October thou wilt 
die. Then the Blessed Francis lying back in 
his bed with great devoutness and reverence 
spread out his hands toward the Lord, and 
with much cheerfulness of mind and body 
said : " Welcome, my Sister Death ! " 



CXXIIL How, when he AFTER these things, 
did hear that he should die a certain brother said 
so soon, he did forthwith unto him . Father 
make be chanted the Lauds thy life and conyer . 
that he had made. sation was and is a 

light and a mirror not only unto thy brethren 
but unto the whole Church, and that same 
thing shall thy death be ; and albeit unto thy 
brethren and unto many others, thy death 
shall be a matter of sadness and sorrow, yet 
shall comfort be thine and a joy that is in 
finite, for thou shalt pass away from sore 
travail unto exceeding rest, away from these 
220 



Saint Francis of Assist 

many pains and temptations unto everlasting 
peace, away from this temporal poverty that 
thou hast loved and perfectly hast observed 
unto the true riches without end, away from 
this temporal death unto the life that faileth 
not, wherein face to face shalt thou behold thy 
Lord God whom in this world thou hast loved 
with so great fervency of love and desire ! " 

And when he had spoken thus, he said unto 
him plainly : " Father, know this of a truth, 
that save the Lord should send thee healing 
from heaven, thine infirmity is past all healing 
and thou hast but a brief space to live, even as 
the leeches have said but just now. But this 
have I said unto thee for the comforting of 
thy spirit that thou mayst ever both inwardly 
and outwardly rejoice in the Lord, so as that 
thy brethren and other that come to see thee, 
may find thee ever rejoicing in the Lord, and 
that unto them that shall see it and unto other 
that shall hear thereof after thy death, thy 
death may be a memorial for ever like as hath 
been and ever shall be thy life and conversa 
tion." 

Then the Blessed Francis, albeit that he 
were weighed down by his infirmities beyond 
his wont, yet did seem nevertheless to put on 
new gladness of mind, hearing that Sister 
Death was so close at hand, and with great 
fervency of spirit gave praise unto the Lord* 
221 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

and said unto the brother : " Forasmuch as 
that and it please the Lord I am so soon to 
die, call brother Angelo and brother Leo 
unto me that they may sing to me of Sister 
Death." 

When those two brethren had come into 
his presence, full of grief and sadness with 
many tears they chanted the " Song of Brother 
Sun and of the other creatures of the Lord " 
that the holy man had made. And at that 
time before the last verse of the canticle he 
added certain verses as concerning Sister 
Death, saying : 

Praised be Thou, O my Lord of Sifter Death the 
death of the body, from whom no man living may 
escape, but woe unto them that shall die in deadly sin, 
and blessed be they that shall walk according to Thy 
most holy will, for unto them shall the second death 
do no hurt! 



CXXrW- How he gave THE most holy 

his blessing to the city o father being now 

Assisi when he was carried certified as well by 

unto S. Mary s that he tne Holy Spirit as 

might die there. by the op i n i on o f 

the leeches that he was nigh unto death, 
whilst that he was still in the said palace, and 
did feel that he was evermore waxing worse 
and that his bodily strength was failing, did 
222 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

make him be borne in his bed to S. Mary of 
the Little Portion, that he might end the life 
of the body there where he had first begun to 
experience the light and life of the soul. 

But when they that did carry him had come 
as far as the Hospital that is in the road half 
way betwixt Assisi and S. Mary s he bade the 
bearers that they should set the bed on the 
ground, and for that by reason of the long and 
passing sore infirmity of his eyes, he could as 
it were no longer see aught, he made the bed be 
turned round so as that they might set his face 
toward the city of Assisi. 

And lifting him up a little in the bed, he 
gave his blessing unto the said city, saying : 
" Lord, whereas this city of old was, as I 
believe, the place and habitation of wicked 
men, so now do I see that by reason of Thine 
abundant mercy in Thine own good time Thou 
hast shown forth the multitude of Thy mercies 
therein above all other cities, and by reason 
of the goodness thereof alone hast chosen her 
unto Thyself to be the place and habitation of 
them that in truth should acknowledge Thee 
and give glory to Thy holy Name, and make 
manifest unto all Christian people the sweet 
smell of good report, holy life and Gospel 
perfection. Wherefore I beseech Thee, O 
Lord Jesus Christ, father of mercies, that 
Thou remember not our ingratitude, but ever 
223 



Saint Francis of Assisi 

bear in mind the abundant pity that Thou 
hast shown forth in her, that she may be for 
ever the place and habitation of them that do 
truly acknowledge Thee and glorify Thy 
blessed and most glorious Name from ever 
lasting unto everlasting. Amen ! " 

And when he had spoken these words he 
was carried unto S. Mary s, wherein in the 
forty-first year of his age and after he had 
fulfilled twenty years of perfect repentance, in 
the year of Our Lord 1227, on the fourth of 
the Nones of October, he passed away unto the 
Lord Jesus Christ whom with all his heart 
and with all his soul and with all his strength 
he loved with the most ardent desire and with 
the fullest affection, following Him most per 
fectly, running after Him most swiftly, and in 
the end most gloriously overtaking Him that 
with the Father and the Holy Ghost ever 
liveth and reigneth from everlasting unto 
everlasting Amen. 

Here endeth the Mirror of Perfection of a 
brother Minor ; to wit, of the Blessed Francis, 
wherein we may most sufficiently behold as in 
a glass the perfection of his calling and pro 
fession. 

All praise, all glory be unto God the 
Father and unto the Son and unto the Holy 
Ghost. Honour and thanksgiving unto the 
224 



Saint Francis of Assist 

most Blessed Virgin Mary and unto Her holy 
martyr Kunera ; magnificence and exaltation 
unto Her most Blessed servant Francis. 
Amen. 

Done in the most holy place of S. Mary of tht 
Little Portion, and completed this fifth oj 
the Ides of May in the year of Our Lord 
1228. 



25 



INDEX 



ABSTINENCE, Francis s teaching as to, 4850 

Alms, Francis s teaching as to, 30-35, 37; holiness of the 
bread of, 42 

Alverna, Mount, 176, 21 1 

Angelo Tancredi, brother, 1155 his courtesy, 1525 Francis, 
dying, bids him sing to him, 222 

Arezzo, the leech of, 219 

Assisi, house for the brethren built by folk of, 13 ; soldiers of, 
go to fetch Francis, 37 ; the bishop of, has no church for 
Francis, 85 j Francis is haled through the streets of, 102; 
dissension between Bishop and High Bailiff of, l8oj feud 
between Perugia and, 189 ; the people of, bear away the 
body of Francis, 197 ; Francis sick to death at, 217 j 
Francis blesses the city of, 223 

BAGNARA, Francis ailing at, 37 

Benedict, Abbot of S., gives a church to Francis, 85 

Bernard, brother, his faith, 152 ; is blessed bv Franci?, 193 j 

his sickness, 194 ; and death, 195 
Body, Francis s teaching as to the needs of the, 171 
Bologna, house of the brethren at, 1 3 
Bonaventura, Doctor, 18 
Bonyzo, brother, of Bologna, I 

Borgo San Sepolcro, robbers come to the brethren of, nz 
Bovara, Francis goes to the deserted church at, 98 
Bread broken and given by Francis, 159 
Brother Minor, Francis s picture of a, 152 
Brothers Minor, 20; their title revealed to Francis, 45 $ their 

salutation, 46 

Brother Sun, the Song of, 181, xi <; 
226 



Index 

CANUTES, Francis has them made ready for his dying, 203 

Cautery, Francis submits to, 207 

Celano, a poor woman of, 52 

Chastity, Francis s teaching as to, 154 

Cheerfulness, Francis s love of, 167-171 

Christ complains to Leo, 81 5 comforts Francis, 144 

Christmas, Francis s reverence for, 207 

Clara, desires to see Francis, 195 ; and beholds his dead body, 

197 

Clara, Francis admonishes the Sisters of S., 161 
Cortona, cell of, 53 

DAMIAN, S., of Assisi, the poor sisters of, 195 5 the body of 

Francis is borne to the house of, 197 
Death, sister, Francis s welcome to, 220 
Devil, the, his presence in a pillow, 173 ; tempts Francis by 

means of mice, 176 j a brother tempted by, 190 
Devils, Francis puts them to flight, 98 ; he is beaten of, 114 j 

they are the Lord s sergeants, 116, 120-126 
Dominic, S., 68 j girds on the cord of Francis, 70 

EGIDIUS, brother, joins the Religion, 61 j his gift of contem 
plation, 153 

Eleutherius, hermitage of S., 28 

Elias, brother, vicar of Francis, 2 ; makes a house at Assisi for 
the brethren, 155 is rebuked by Francis, 1 6 ; Francis 
asks his presence, 207 j he rebukes Francis, 218 

Eye-leech, the, visits Francis, 198 ; and eats with the brothers 
199 j he treats Francis s eye infirmity by cautery, 207 

FABIAN, S., the poor priest of the church of, 187 
Fire, Francis s appeal to, 208 j and love of, 209 
Flesh-meats, Francis obtains for the sick, 67 j Francis performs 

penance for having eaten, 102 
Foligno, brother Elias at, 218 

Fonte Palumbo, Francis at the hermitage of, 118, 198, 207 
Francis of Assisi, his rules, I j his decision as to the possession 
of books, 3, 6-8, 12 ; on the rule of poverty, 6-12, 19, 
&c. ; he would fain destroy the house at Assisi, 14 ; a 
cell is built for him, 16 j he renounces the cell, 17 ; visits 
Siena, 18 j on the name of brothers Minor, 20 ; on deli- 
227 



Index 

cate clothing, 27 j he asks alms, 30 j his teaching re 
garding alms, 31-35, 37-44 } is ill at Bagnara, 375 he 
eats with a famishing brother, 47 j his condescension to 
a sick brother, 50 ; his gifts to the poor, 52-60, 105, &c. ; 
he turns aside the wrath of an injured man, 54 j his in 
firmities, 59 ; he rebukes one who misdeemed of a poor 
man, 60 j makes a New Testament be given to a poor 
woman, 64 ; he resigns the office of superior, 65, 125 j 
renounces honours for the brethren, 69 j preaches at 
Rieti, 72 ; accepts a companion as warden, 74 ; his 
teaching of perfect obedience, 76 j the church of S. Mary 
of the Little Portion given to him, 85 ; he sends yearly a 
quit-rent for the church, 87 j cleanses the churches of 
Assisi, 91 ; is helped by a countryman, 92 j and accepts 
him as his companion, 95 ; reproves brother James, 96 ; 
and repents of the reproof, 97, 98 ; is tempted by devils, 
98 ; performs penance at Assisi, 102 j is minded to preach 
in distant lands, 107 5 his care for the Lord s Body, 109; 
is forbidden to go to France, no j teaches the brethren 
how to deal with robbers, 1125 visits Cardinal Leo, 114} 
is heaten by devils, 116 ; returns to Fonte Palumbo, 118 j 
desires godliness lather than knowledge fof the brethren, 
121-128 ; his knights of the Table Round, 129 ; his 
zeal for the Rule, 135 ; commends the Religion of the 
brothers Minor to the Roman Church, 137 ; obtains from 
God favours for the Religion, 138 ; describes such a man 
as should succeed him, 139 ; and what men the com 
panions should be, 142 ; the Lord comforts him in his 
grief, 144, 145 j his zeal for the place of S. Mary of the 
Little Portion, 147, &c. ; he says and teaches the Laudes 
Domino, 149 ; his zeal for the perfection of the brethren, 
152 ; his teaching as to chastity, 154 ; his exceeding in 
firmity, 155-161 ; his three words to the brethren, 157 ; 
gives bread to the brethren, 159 ; his compassion for the 
sufferings of Chr jt, 163-1655 he rebukes a sorrowful 
companion, 169 ; is tempted of the devil, 173 j his re 
lease from temptation, 175 j receives the stigmata on 
Mount Alverna, 176 : his songs of praise, 178 5 makes 
peace between the Bishop and the High Bailiff of Assisi, 
1 80 ; is aware of false brethren, 183 ; stays with a poor 
priest at Rieti, 187 j his preaching hindered at Perugia, 
228 



Index 

1 88 ; he deals gently with a tempted brother, 191 ; he 
blesses brother Bernard, 193 5 he writes to sister Clara, 
196 j his death, 196, 203, 2245 he foretells the honour 
ing of his body, 197 j makes welcome the eye-leech, 198 j 
is visited by the Lady Jaqueline, 201 ; his love of all 
creatures, 204 ; how he would have the Nativity ob 
served, 206, 207 ; the eye-leech visits him, 207 j his love 
of fire, 209-212 j his love of water and wood, 212 ; his 
song of Brother Sun, 215 j his sickness at Assisi, 2175 
he asks the leech of his condition, 219 ; he blesses the 
city of Assisi, 223 j he dies at S. Mary s, 224 
French songs made by Francis, 165 

GARDEN, some of it to be set apart for flowers, 213 
Garments, teaching of Francis regarding, 28 
Greccio, the hermitage at, 173 
Gregory IX., Pope, 36 

HONORIUS III., Pope, i 

Hours, canonical, Francis s observance of, 166 

Humility, Francis s teaching concerning, 83, &c. 

IDLE WORDS, how dealt with, 148 

Idleness, Francis s ordinance against, 147 

Innocent III., Pope, the Rules of Francis laid before, i, 46 

JAMES THE SIMPLE, brother, 96 

Jaqueline of Settesoli, 200 ; visits Francis, 201 ; and bears 

gifts, 202 
John the countryman, his help to Francis, 92 ; leaves his own 

people, 93 ; and follows Francis, 94 j he dies, and is 

called John the Saint, 96 
John Good, the leech of Arezzo, 219 
John de Laudibus, brother, his strength, 153 
Juniper, brother, his patience, 153 

KNOWLEDGE, Francis s fear of, for the brethren, 121, 127. 
128 

LARK, the crested, Francis s love for, 204 
22 9 



Index 

Laudes Domino, 148, 180, 181 j chanting of, to cheer the dying 

Francis, 217 

Layman, a, martyred by Saracens, 136 
Lent, S. Martin s, 103 
Leo, brother, of Assisi, i ; Christ makes complaint to, 81 j 

his purity, 152 ; he chants the Song of the Sun to Francis, 

222 

Leo, the cardinal, 114 
Leper, Francis eats with a, 97, 98 
Lepers, behaviour of Francis cowards, 71 
Lodola Cafel/ata, 204 
Lucca, son of a nobleman of, 186 
Lucido, brother, his solicitude, 153 
Lucifer, his seat reserved for Francis, 100 

MACHILONI, a poor woman of, 65 

Masseo, brother, his gracious aspect, 153 

Mice, temptation of Francis by means of, 176 

Minister General, authority exercised by, over Francis, 57 j 

Peter of Catana appointed as, 65 ; S. Mary of the Little 

Portion put under the charge of the, 89 
Minstrels of the Lord, 179 
Money, Francis s execration of, 26 
Mostacciuoloy or marchpane, Francis s wish for, 201 

NATIVITY, Francis at the feast of the, 33 5 how he would have 
it observed, 206 

OBEDIENCE, the perfect manner of, 76 

Ostia, Ugolirio, Bishop of, Legate in Lombardy, 13 ; afterwards 
Pope Gregory IX., 36 ; Francis visits him and begs alms, 
39 ; he remonstrates with Francis, 40 ; Francis and 
Dominic before him, 68 ; he forbids Francis to leave 
Italy, noj Francis visits him, 114; the brethren appeal 
to him, 119 ; he admonishes Francis, 163 

PACIFICO, brother, called King of Verse, 98, 178 j his vision, 

99 5 is sent to France, 112 
Perugia, the soldiers of, hinder the preaching of Francis, 188 

and are punished, 190 

2 3 



Index 

Peter of Catana, Minister General of Francis, 63 ; becomes 
Superior, 65 j he hales Francis in penance by a rope, 



102 



Poor Ladies, Francis makes hymns for the, 161 

Poverty, Rule of, 6 ; chosen by Francis, 30 j our Lady, 128 

Psalter, desire of a novice to possess a, tf-ii 

Pyxes, Francis provides, 109 

RICHER or THE MARCH, brother, 4, 29 

Rieti, Bishop of, 72 ; a poor priest of, 187 

Rivo Torto, an idle brother at, 43 j a dying brother at, 47 j 

brother Egidius at, 61 

Roaches, annual quit-rent of, for the place of S. Mary, 87 
Robbers, Francis s dealings with the, 112 
Rocca Brizzi, Francis preaches at, 62 
Rogero, brother, his charity, 153 
Rufinus, the holy, his activity, 153 
Rule, the, i, 6, 19, 135 

S. MARY or THE ANGELS, OR OF THE LITTLE PORTION, place 
of, 1 1 j general chapter held annually at, 13 ; how Fran 
cis would^have the houses of, built, 23 j Franc s sojourns 
a *> 63 ; given to the brethren by the Abbot of S. Bene 
dict, 85 j Francis s zeal for, 147 j verses on, 151: 
Francis is sick at, 200 j Francis dies at, 224 

Salutation given by the brothers Minor, 46 

Siena, Francis visits, 18, 53 ; a doctor of theology of, 82 

Spoleto, vale of, 112 

Stigmata received by Francis, 176 

Subasio, Monte, 85 

TABLE ROUND, Francis s knights of the, 129 
Trees and stones, Francis s love for, 212 

VINEYARD, a poor priest s, despoiled, 187 
Virgin, the Blessed, her love for her church of the Little 
Portion, 88 

WARDEN, Francis s, 60, 74 

231 



Index 

Water, Francis s love for, 212 
Wattles, chapter of the, 119 

[/ hi* dates Brother Leo makes use of the Pisan style, lohich is 
nine months and seven days In advance of our oivn. All the 
MSS. collated by M. Sabatier agree in the statement that 
Francis died in his forty-first year ; but M, Sabatier regards 
it as established that the saint ivas forty-five at the time of 
his death.] 



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